Tear down these signs
UB’s current smoking ban is a lost cause
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Here’s a fun fact you might not be aware of: UB is a smoke-free campus.
You might actually have noticed the signs around campus, perhaps leaving Lockwood Library after a study session or strolling through the courtyards of the Ellicott Complex.
But despite a three-year non-smoking policy, these signs are often seen through clouds of smoke.
In August 2010, the campus supposedly began enforcing UBreathe Free, the university’s policy that has banned smoking everywhere from dorm rooms to parking lots.
The consequences that come with such a heinous crime is usually just as simple as being asked to put it out, but refusal to do so can have you removed or denied re-entry from whatever building, doorway or field you were in.
In other words, even if you’re smoking outdoors on the grounds of what is, in fact, a public university, the punishment still stands.
So for the last two years, signs have been nailed up across the three campuses, proudly claiming that UB is smoke-free, all while smoke is blown into the air around them and University Police nonchalantly pass by.
UBreathe Free is not a frequently enforced policy, but it is one that exists nonetheless. Why? The consequences and dangers of smoking are known, and it’s going to take more a sign on the wall to stop the nicotine-addicted from lighting up.
The good intentions can’t be overlooked, however. According to UBreathe Free, the goal is to provide “a healthy, comfortable and safe environment for its students, faculty and staff,” and it genuinely could be a step in the direction for a rather lackluster green movement – not to mention an opportunity to satisfy all those statistics you’ve been hearing about 75 percent of students preferring to socialize in smoke-free environments.
But does UB even get anything out of UBreathe Free besides the satisfaction of saying no and getting to stamp its rarely used “green” card?
UB is a campus of contradictions when it comes to its smoke-free policy. You can’t smoke on campus grounds, but if your intention was to smoke outside the Student Union, for instance, all you need to do is stroll across the street to The Commons, which is not university owned. There’s nowhere on campus that UB is allowed to sell tobacco product … except at CVS in The Commons. Even though a 2010 MyUB survey shows that 92 percent of UB students disapprove of smokers throwing their cigarette butts on the ground, there are no ash receptacles.
The last contradiction is actually problematic, though. Yes, it’s a poor attempt to eliminate smoking under the assumption that smoker without a box to dispose of his cigarette butts in won’t smoke at all, but it’s also an obvious example of how UB is losing its smoking ban battle and its green battle.
The current system is unpractical, and nobody can take it seriously. Prior to UBreathe Free, the university had designated areas on campus for people to smoke. Executed properly, that system can keep the campus clean and possibly even eliminate alienating its students. Go back to those designated areas instead of penalizing students for lighting up everywhere, and the university can at least call a draw on both fronts.