Through the fog
Unclear rules leave smokers in cloud of confusion
We've seen it all around campus, in the air, in hand and on the ground.
The College at Brockport is a nonsmoking campus, but it seems like everywhere we turn we can find the evidence of that rule being ignored and broken, by students and nonstudents alike.
It doesn't help that the line gets blurred around the construction areas. Because they're unionized, the workers can't technically be told not to smoke.
This is an issue that has to be addressed. Not necessarily whether it's good or bad, but that the rules surrounding it should be enforced and in a way that benefits everyone. The nonsmoking policy was made, but its glaring flaw is how difficult it is to follow.
Where are you allowed to smoke? Were designated smoking areas created and made known to everyone? And ashtrays? It's unclear as to where these smoking areas actually are on campus.
Dr. Karen Logsdon, assistant to the vice president of student affairs, said the policy with "minor exemptions" was passed in March of 2011. The policy passed after a "heated and intense session in which it [the policy] was thoroughly challenged" in the College Senate.
According to the policy, smoking is only allowed in parking lot A - behind the college's high rise dormitories - and lot D-1, on Holley Street. It fails to outline any disciplinary actions for those who violate it.
It seems as though the policy was passed and that was the end of it, no enforcement, no accommodations and no help.
Brockport could certainly take a page from Monroe Community College's (MCC) book. When the college implemented its smoke-free policy in 2008 it was done over summer, and it didn't just put smoke free stickers on some of its doors.
Smoking areas are clearly designated all over MCC's campus perimeter in strategic places, with ashtrays and benches for smokers. They can be found a good distance away from all the building entrances and on the edges of all the parking lots.
MCC also provides nicotine replacement products at its bookstore, such as lozenges and gum, as well as offering smoking cessation programming throughout the semester. It even has a page on its website clearly outlining the policy and expectations, including links to helpful quitting websites and the phone number for the New York State Smokers' Quitline (1-866-NY-QUITS) which offers a free starter kit of patches, gum or lozenges for those trying to quit.
Brockport has a PDF file on its website of its smoke-free policy, but all it really does is specify where you can't smoke and state that "effective implementation of this policy depends on the cooperation of all members of the college community."
Not to say MCC's policy is perfect - rules always get broken and people will smoke where they're not supposed to - but once being admonished by a professor a few times, many tend to follow the rules.
Keeping the campus smoke-free with designated areas also immensely helps those bothered by cigarette smoke. Many people with asthma or allergies don't just dislike walking through cigarette smoke; it affects their health, some more than others.
With well-marked areas, smokers know where they can go and nonsmokers know where to avoid going.
It's not just those with health issues we should be concerned for, either. There is a children's daycare on campus, and they often go outside and are exposed to secondhand smoke by those disobeying the policy. And let's not forget high school students who tour the campus or take special classes here.
Of course there are harsher, more consequential ways of enforcing the policy; some have suggested things such as patrols and ticketing for offenders. It's true that there currently is no penalty for those who break the rule, but are penalties really necessary? It seems like we should actually try enforcing the policy and make it easier to follow before we resort to punishing people for breaking it. With the lack of knowledge surrounding the issue, it's entirely possible many smokers aren't even aware that it's a nonsmoking campus. Imposing tickets or fines seems excessive and unfair otherwise.
Obviously the rule is poorly enforced and not very well known. In college, people are going to smoke any number of things in any number of places.
If Brockport wants to follow suit with the rest of society, the school and perhaps even University Police should get involved in enforcing the rule and spreading awareness of it simultaneously. This is especially important with winter coming, when people don't want to stray too far from the warmth and comfort of their buildings and will smoke right beside them, sheltered from the elements and violating the policy.
In order for Brockport to get the ball rolling on improving upon its nonsmoking policy, we need to educate students and nonstudents alike on the policy with more signage and clearer outlining of the policy on the school's website. It should also be easier to find on the website, since we all know how poorly the website's search engine functions.
We could also provide smokers more and better designated areas for smoking, with reasonable accommodations such as ashtrays, benches and maybe eventually sheltered areas for harsher weather.
Educating smokers and giving them access to resources to help them quit, like nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, would also be a step forward.
Students, faculty and staff need to be aware that, according to policy, it's up to them to enforce the rule and make sure people follow. If you see someone smoking where they shouldn't, politely ask them to put it out, or move to one of the areas they're allowed.
Together and with better help from the college, we can make the college a smoke-free atmosphere.
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