Monday night, a forum was held that allowed students the chance to voice their opinions and concerns about the UBreathe Free initiative, something that student leaders felt that was never looked into prior to its implementation.
Nicole Jowsey, president of the Graduate Student Association, spoke first, saying that the purpose of the forum was to garner information about the program and how it can be improved.
Ernesto Alvarado, president of the Student Association, then clarified that the SA and GSA were neutral parties who were concerned about the lack of student voices in regard to the policy.
Alvarado then introduced the main speaker – Dr. Gary Giovino, the chair of the Department of Health Behavior. Giovino started out by letting the audience know that the deaths of several close friends and relatives, including his mother, led to his rejection of smoking as a valid lifestyle.
Giovino advocated for UBreathe Free and believes that it can be very effective in helping people quit smoking.
'Policy-based initiatives are the ones that make the most difference,' Giovino said.
As proof, he cited the changes in sanitation that have come about over the years as hospitals have instituted certain policies to prevent the spread of germs.
Giovino feels that the best way to get people to quit smoking is to change the culture of acceptance, or 'default' attitude, that currently exists.
'[UBreathe Free] is not meant to be punitive … it's meant to change the default,' Giovino said.
According to Giovino, the policy has three main goals: protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, encouraging smokers to quit and protecting the environment.
When asked about how the policy is being enforced, Giovino said that he feels the best way to change the default is for individual students to respectfully remind smokers they see that smoking is no longer allowed on campus.
'I quit [smoking] when I realized I was up against a chemical,' Giovino said. 'It won't work to nag people to quit.'
In terms of official enforcement, Giovino said that signs have been placed around campus, events have been held to help smokers quit, and around 400 volunteers have been recruited to give smokers cards reminding them about the policy, as well as to pick up any cigarette butts they see on the ground and educate the people around them about why they are doing it.
In response to a question about the repercussions for students caught smoking, Giovino said that everyone is subject to a 1994 law that prohibits people from smoking in, or at the entrances to, buildings.
'UBreathe Free expands that law to all of campus,' Giovino said. Therefore, theoretically, people should be 'subject to judiciary processing.' However, this has not been enforced.
In regards to designated smoking areas, which many students have advocated for, Giovino was opposed.
'The more exceptions you make, the less compliance you get,' Giovino said.
When asked whether a plan is in place to enforce the policy among the staff, Giovino said that one had been discussed, but offered no further details.
Amanda Ayler, a graduate student in the Department of Health Behavior, supports UBreathe Free and feels that forums such as this one are important.
'It's good for students to keep talking to policy makers,' Ayler said. 'I think UBreathe Free has been effective; I've definitely noticed a change. I intern in the Wellness Center, so I know the things they know. No one notices the people who aren't smoking anymore because they aren't standing [around campus] anymore.'