Due to university property damage and excessive complaints, UB enacted a no-smoking policy for all university apartments that went into effect June 1. In addition, designated smoking areas have been established, limiting smokers to only five places on campus where they are permitted to light up.
UB has had a smoke free policy since August 1994, according to Dennis Black, vice president of Student Affairs. The policy states that "smoking is strictly prohibited in all University-owned and operated buildings, stadiums and outdoor events, and in all vehicles owned and operated by the university. Doorway areas and loading docks are considered part of the building."
Joseph Krakowiak, director of the University Residence Halls and Apartments, said prohibiting smoking in the apartments is part of fully-complying with UB's existing smoke-free policy, in addition to taking action against property damage and complaints from non-smoking apartment residents.
"It's time to adjust," Krakowiak said. "We feel it's gone on long enough."
Originally, smoking was allowed in apartments if all the roommates signed an agreement consenting to it. This is still a problem to non-smoking apartment residents in the same building, according to Krakowiak, because the apartments are not "hermetically sealed," allowing smoke from one apartment to be released into other apartments through the ventilation system.
"You can agree (to smoking), but the four people above or below you might not like it," he said. "It just doesn't work for us."
Emily McClellan, a senior English major living off campus, said banning smoking in university apartments is "ridiculous."
"(UB) is renting (apartments) out like they're supposed to be real off-campus housing that's on campus for convenience and (students) are paying too much money in the first place for these crappy little rooms," said McCellan. "Now they are not allowed to smoke."
Conversely, Lori Baumgarten, a freshman undecided major, said banning smoking in the university apartments is "a really good idea."
"My family smoked for years and years and I had problems with breathing," said Baumgarten. "My mom might pass away from lung cancer so I'm against (smoking) altogether."
Smokers, said Krakowiak, may not be "fastidious" as to where they place their cigarettes, resulting in burns to the carpet and furniture. It costs $1,600 to replace carpeting and upwards of $350 to replace apartment countertops, which are hefty expenses for the both university and for students who must pay for room damages.
"Why should that be an extra charge to anyone?" said Krakowiak.
As an alternative to permitting smoking in specific apartments, Randy Kleinman, a freshman undecided major, suggested that UB create a "smoking lounge" where apartment residents can go to smoke or designate certain buildings for smokers.
"People pay good money to go here, let them get their way," said Kleinman. "Let there be smoking apartments or apartment complexes just for smoking. I'm sure there would be enough."
Krakowiak said the university has sent out three notices to apartment residents informing them of this new policy, which was written into the new leases signed by students who moved into the apartments this semester. Although no one has complained to him "personally," Krakowiak said that some students have complained to apartment staff.
"We've received more compliments (on the new policy) from people who don't smoke," said Krakowiak.
If a student is caught smoking in his or her apartment once, said Krakowiak, he or she will receive a warning letter reminding him or her of the new policy and urging the student to seek help to stop smoking. If the student is caught smoking a second time, he or she will be put on probation so that if the student is caught a third time, he or she will be in "jeopardy of losing their lease or their license, depending on which they have."
Regarding the five designated campus smoking areas, Black said the University Police, University Facilities and other university offices were receiving complaints about smokers in front of campus entrance ways. In response, UB selected two smoking areas on South Campus and three on North Campus, which are indicated with light blue and white signs. All of the areas were equipped with overhead shelter during inclimate weather as well as tables, benches and ashtrays so smokers could have a cigarette comfortably, without "being an issue for people entering and exiting the building," said Black.
The smoking areas on the South campus areas are the CFS Atrium area, facing west and the main patient entrance on the northeast side of Squire Hall. On North campus, two of the smoking areas are near Capen Hall, one on the first level under the overhang facing east and the other on the ground level facing north, and the north entrance of the Student Union. These areas were chosen, according to Black, because they were near what he described as "smoking problem areas."
Kleinman agreed with having designated smoking areas, saying he doesn't like the smell of cigarette smoke and is concerned about the dangers of second-hand smoke. "Why should your problem be my problem?" he said.
Tim Brown, a senior majoring in engineering and French, is a smoker and said he hopes other smokers do not comply with the new smoking regulations. "If enough people don't smoke in the (designated smoking areas) then hopefully (UB) will realize their rules are absurd," he said.
If people are caught smoking in areas outside of the designated smoking areas, Black said university staff will "redirect" them to smoking areas.
"We're looking for voluntary compliance," said Black. "Our goal is trying to adhere to campus policy as best we can."