News

25 feet: Smoking, surveys, sanctions

Sasha Walsh
Staff Writer

Student smoking a cigarette on the Alice’s patio, a place that is within twenty-five feet from the entrance. (Photo: India Kushner).

Walking out of any Goucher residence hall to greet the world of spring, one’s senses are bombarded by a plethora of stimuli. The sound of birds chirping, the pleasant warmth of the sun and, of course, the smell of cigarette smoke wafting on the spring breeze. However, this could be changing soon.

Recently, in response to a growing number of complaints from members of the Goucher community, there have been discussions regarding changes to Goucher’s smoking policy. As a response, a task force was created to gather information from faculty, staff and students to discuss their wants and needs, and decide if there is an interest in revisiting the policy. The members of this task force include Laurie Burton-Graham, Legal Counsel; Vicki Sloan, staff; Tony Brown, staff; Jean Knecht, staff; Annalisa Czeczulin, faculty; Dara Friedman-Wheeler, faculty; Lydia Harris, faculty; Kayla Prince ‘12; Bianca Duec ’12; Tara Kotagal ‘12; Ben Kane ‘15; and Charles Nishball ‘13.

The current policy for the 2011-2012 academic year, which can be found on Goucher’s website, states “Smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, is not permitted in any Goucher vehicle or building, including but not limited to residence halls, individual rooms and apartments within residence halls, individual faculty and staff offices, faculty and staff lounges, the Gopher Hole, and the Pearlstone Café. Smoking is also prohibited within 25 feet of any Goucher building.”

The task force sent out a survey in which students could respond anonymously in an effort to gauge general opinion about the effectiveness of this policy and how participants feel about smoking regulations on campus.

Two open-door meetings were also held on Feb. 28 and 29 in the Heubeck Multipurpose Room to discuss issues surrounding the present smoking policy. These meetings were held in “fishbowl” format.

Goucher’s Campus Policies’ Health risk section states the colleges understanding of the ramifications of smoking, stating, “Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths annually in the United States.” For many students, however, the policy does not seem to be a matter of health so much as a matter of personal liberty. One sophomore who asked to remain anonymous feels that “there shouldn’t be an all-out ban. It’s okay that people smoke on campus, but I think more attention should be paid to the 25 foot rule.”

However, other students have stronger views. Charlie Leonard ‘13 says, “it’s just so annoying walking out of the door and the smell just hits you. It’s disrespectful. Also I hate getting stuck walking behind people who are smoking on my way to class. I would love it if they banned smoking on Van Meter highway.”
Fellow junior Ashley Fan echoes this sentiment saying of smoking, “it’s kind of selfish, people especially don’t think about people with asthma and other health problems that could really be affected by it.”

These discussions about smoking at Goucher come amidst a broader context of less tolerant smoking policies at colleges across the U.S. On August 1, 2010 Towson University joined with other institution including NYU and Oklahoma State by becoming an entirely smoke-free campus.

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