Up in Smoke
Smoking within the Loyola community has critics wanting a change
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 19:02
Mass communication junior Jasmine Barnes agrees that smoking doesn’t only pertain to smokers themselves but that it also affects others in the community.
“If you smoke, that affects mainly you. But if you smoke and litter our campus with your cigarette butts, that affects us all — the current students who see it every day and the prospective students who may see our campus once and then make a very important decision,” Barnes said.
Though some non-smoking students are in favor of a smoke-free campus or tighter regulations, many smokers are wary of such restrictions.
“I would be upset, but not overly surprised,” Clay said. “I think if Loyola becomes a smoke-free campus, nothing’s really going to change. I doubt anyone would just say, ‘Oh, well, I’m quitting because I can’t smoke where I want to.’ They’ll just walk to Audubon or Freret or somewhere else. Just because people aren’t supposed to do something doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. Minors aren’t supposed to have alcohol in their rooms, but they do anyway.”
Gatto worries that if Loyola were to become smoke-free, smokers would be looked down upon.
“I would definitely be pro fewer smoking areas or smaller areas, but I feel like having a smoke-free campus would bring more judgment down on people who do smoke. I think I would feel like ashamed if I had to sneak away off campus to go smoke, and I wouldn’t want to feel ashamed of my position at my university that I’m so happy and proud to be a part of,” Gatto said.
“I can’t even count how many times I have seen a professor smoke or bummed them a cigarette, or smoked with a Sodexo employee and asked them how their day was. I wouldn’t want a Sodexo worker to have to feel ashamed about smoking, either,” she said.
Gatto is also concerned about what would happen to smokers who decided to quit if Loyola became a smoke-free campus, but would like to see programs to help people quit.
“I think it would be cool to see some sort of large-scale, visible program or event for students who want to quit or are thinking about quitting,” Gatto said.
According to Petty, the University Counseling Center currently offers and will continue to offer smoking cessation programs regardless of any changes in smoking policy.
Until policies are changed or enforced more heavily, however, smokers and non-smokers will simply have to co-exist peacefully.
“Right now our biggest designated smoking area is located smack dab in the middle of our campus, which is a problem,” Ketcham said. “Smokers have the right to choose to smoke, but non-smokers also have the right to clean air. And while many of the smokers on campus are respectful, there are a select few who have forgotten that smoking on campus is a privilege, not a right.”
Reports from St. Louis University, a fellow Jesuit institution, reveal that more than 70 percent of college students do not smoke. This means that less than a third of all students at universities like Loyola are exposing their non-smoker friends and peers to the health consequences that these smokers voluntarily expose themselves to.
St. Louis University is one of a handful of Jesuit universities in the U.S. that has adopted a smoke-free campus. During the 2007-2008 academic year, SLU began the process of becoming smoke free after facing problems similar to Loyola’s. According to university reports, representatives from “Smoke Free SLU” attempted to rearrange designated smoking areas, but their policies, like Loyola’s, were neither followed nor enforced.
Now that the smoke-free policy at St. Louis University has been in full effect for nearly five years, the University has seen much more success with enforcement. SLU has also adopted several resources on campus for smokers attempting to quit the habit since the enforcement of the policy.
Before Loyola can be successful with such a policy, students such as Gomez-Nieto and Ketcham believe that a change of attitude toward smoking in general at Loyola must take place. To do so, however, Ketcham believes that logistical changes to the smoking policy must be made first.
“We need to re-evaluate our designated smoking areas and make sure that they aren’t in high-traffic areas. We also need to re-establish, advertise and enforce a coherent smoking policy so that everyone on campus is aware of the rules,” Ketcham said.