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Controversial smoking changes proposed

By BRIAN BIGELOW | News Editor

Newly proposed changes to campus smoking policy would prohibit smoking in the center of campus, and some smokers are not happy about the changes.

“I’m very displeased with it,” said Bryant Smith, sophomore English major. “We, as smokers, are being treated as second class citizens. No one in a position of power really cares what we have to say about it.”

The new smoking rules would prohibit smoking within the center of campus, the area bordered by College Street, Marion Street, Drane Street and Eighth Street.

This would eliminate the Trahern and Blount/Sevier parking lots as smoking areas, including the popular smoking spot between the Harvill bookstore and Harned Hall.

“People will not follow the policy that’s in place. If we’re going to have a policy, it needs to be enforced,” said Greg Singleton, Dean of Students, adding the new policy will be easier to enforce. There will be less ambiguity and confusion about where smoking is allowed, making violators more obvious to identify.

The current smoking policy has been in place since July 2006. Any changes to university smoking policy would not take effect until the fall semester.

“I don’t think it’s very wise [and] I don’t think it’s very safe,” Smith said of the current policy, pointing out that cars often drive too fast through parking lots and pose a safety risk. He adds the new policy will not only fail to address the issue of smokers’ safety, but will also be an additional inconvenience for smokers who will have to walk farther between classes in order to smoke.

“You’ve got to balance the rights of everyone,” Singleton said. “You’re never going to 100 percent appease everybody.”
According to Singleton, the proposed changes passed unanimously in the SGA and no one came to any meetings to speak out against the changes.

Kenny Kennedy, SGA president, said he felt the concerns of smokers had been adequately addressed because ample opportunities had been provided for smokers to voice their concerns, though few, if any, took advantage of those opportunities.

Kennedy noted students have multiple avenues to learn about, and voice their opinions on SGA’s actions. The minutes of SGA senate meetings are posted online, providing information about proposals that are being discussed and the SGA website includes contact information for all senators and executive council members.

During the fall 2010 semester, a committee was formed in SGA to address concerns about smoking in non-smoking areas on campus.

University policies are reviewed every four to five years, said Kennedy, and that is why the smoking policy was brought up for review.

The SGA committee reviewed smoking policies at 93 institutions of higher learning, including every Tennessee Board of Regents school.

Nationwide, there are 430 institutions of higher learning that have enacted total bans on smoking on their campuses, Singleton said, including East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University.

Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis are also looking into revising their smoking policies.

The university policy committee will vote on the proposed changes to the smoking policy on Tuesday, April 12.

If passed, the matter will then go before APSU President Timothy Hall for final approval. TAS

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2 comments

  1. I am not a smoker, but I do believe that even smokers have rights. I understand that the purpose of anti-smoking policies is twofold: to protect non-smokers from being unwillingly subjected to second-hand smoke, and to discourage smoking. Although anti-smoking policies are successful in the first part, they fail in the second. I believe that anti-smoking policies rarely cause people to quit smoking. They just force smokers to find ways to break the rules and hope they don’t get caught. APSU mandates that all freshmen live in the dorms. The proposed new smoking locations will force smokers to schlep to the parking lots that are the furthest from freshman housing. Not only is that unfair, but it is likely to increase the incidents of violations of the non-smoking policy.
    When were the ‘ample opportunities’ to speak out about this? This is the first article I’ve seen in the All State about this issue and I’ve been a student since Fall 2009. Where does the SGA post their agenda? Are hot button topics like this given extra ‘press’ to make sure students who wish to speak up have that chance? If they were, I missed it. Since this passed the SGA unanimously I’m certain that all of the members are not only non-smokers, but also militant anti-smokers who think all cigarettes should be outlawed worldwide…as they drink their sodas and beer and eat their fast-food and candy and sit smugly thinking how much better they are than those nasty smokers. Sorry, but hypocrisy makes me a little crazy. If the University is so hell-bent on protecting the health of it’s students, then it should be addressing obesity issues (fast food in the food court, unlimited soft drinks for one flat rate), and mandate a physical fitness program as well as crusading against smoking.
    Now I have been taught that you don’t vent unless you can also propose a solution, so here is my proposal:
    1. Designated smoking areas need to be marked as such. This makes it easier for smokers to know where they are allowed to smoke and also makes it easier for non-smokers to know where to avoid. Additionally, all designated smoking areas should have at least one suitable fire-proof container for the disposal of cigarette butts.
    2. Although designated smoking areas could remain near parking lots, entire parking lots in general should not be smoking areas for a couple of reasons: a lack of ash cans contributes to parking lots littered with cigarette butts; and under the guise of having a quick smoke, criminals are free to meander amongst the cars and look for potential targets. How can you tell the difference between a student smoking and someone pretending to be a student smoking?
    3. I suggest that the area near the big green statue outside of the UC become a designated smoking area, with signs marking it as such. This is a location that is central to campus and provides a convenient location for smokers between classes.
    4. All of these changes should be widely publicized to ensure that smokers and non-smokers alike know the location of the designated smoking areas.

  2. If the smoking sections were actually marked as such, it would make things much easier. And will it look good for the school to have a bunch of smokers standing around the perimeter of the campus? This plan is really not a good idea.