UB's smoke-free policy leads monthly InFocus discussion
Students, faculty discuss effectiveness of UBreathe Free
On Friday, students and faculty discussed cigarette use on UB’s campus at a monthly InFocus meeting. The university, which has a smoke-free policy, has struggled to implement the rule. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
When Megan Bragdon was pregnant, she was concerned about the effects of second-hand smoke. Despite UB's anti-smoking policy, she said people give her rude responses when she asks them to put their cigarettes out on campus.
Bragdon, the program coordinator for the University Honors College, had the chance to voice her opinion on smoking at the latest InFocus series meeting.
Friday at noon, students and faculty gathered in 107 Capen Hall to talk about smoking and the university's smoke-free policy, UBreathe Free - which restricts smoking on campus grounds. It aims to make the campus cleaner and healthier for students, employees and visitors.
Contrary to the rule, students continue to congregate in front of doorways for a cigarette break between classes, making the policy a subject for discussion. Though the few students who were against UBreathe Free at the meeting didn't vocalize their opinions strongly, many students on campus find it unfair that smoking on campus is banned. But the majority of those who attended Friday's discussion believe smoking shouldn't happen at all at UB.
"You should be respectful of me as a person having to breathe the air walking past," Bragdon said. "I'm not saying you don't have a right to smoke; just don't smoke here. Don't smoke where I have to breathe it, and respect the community you're around."
Sherri Darrow, the director of Student Health and Wellness, was the meeting's moderator. Each month, a UB professor or faculty member facilitates the open forum about a current issue in society, engaging both students and faculty.
Ten percent of UB students have reported tobacco use in the last 30 days, according to Darrow. Out of those who do use it, men are more likely to consume tobacco than women, she said.
"Does this surprise you?" Darrow asked the group.
Robert Rondinaro, a junior biological sciences major, did not expect those numbers.
"I would say [I'm] a little surprised because, just by walking outside campus, you will see at least two or three students smoking every day," Rondinaro said.
The adult rate for smoking was 44 percent in the 1950s and is at an "all-time low" at 19 percent today, according to Darrow.
Darrow explained there are three reasons for the decline: the increasing cost of tobacco products, the indoor air laws that prohibit smoking inside of buildings and restricted access for smokers, including requiring photo IDs to purchase cigarettes.
"The main reason for the smoke-free policy is out of respect for each other and the environment," Darrow said. "We do have a commitment here. We are a community and have a policy we are hoping will support that."
Some students, agreeing with Bragdon, vocalized concerns over second-hand smoke.
"Some smokers build up this attitude that people can't tell them what to do," one student added. "I don't think they understand the severity of second-hand smoke."
The way senior biological engineering major Phil Tucciarone sees it, the policy will not progress without strictly enforcing it on campus.
"What is a rule without enforcement?" Tucciarone said. "Without enforcement, how strong are the rules that we have?"
Rondinaro talked about his experience working at a movie theater and having no authority to do anything when he saw people smoking in the public restroom. Others agreed and said UB's policy needs to be stricter in order for smokers to take it seriously.
One student suggested implementing a fine for those who do not obey the rule.
As the meeting closed, Darrow told the group the smoking issue is challenging and takes effort to overcome.
Wellness Education Services has a website on which students can learn more about UB's efforts to promote health in the community for the long term.
The next InFocus meeting will take place March 28. The topic has not yet been released.
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