UWF clears the air

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A cigarette butt receptacle.
Photo by Tristan Lawson.

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

There might be some grumpy people on campus soon as the topic of making UWF a smoke-free campus comes back this fall. The Tobacco Task Force Committee is set to meet on Oct. 8 and will discuss the policy which would ban the use of all tobacco products on the campus for all students, faculty and guests. See a January 2015 draft of the policy here.

The majority of students and faculty on campus are non-smokers, so the issue seems to be met with indifference with most people. “It won’t affect me to much as far as my habits go,” said Curtis Duvall, an electrical engineering sophomore who is a non-smoker. When asked if it was ever a nuisance to him he replied, “Yes, it has been.”

However, the opinion of students who smoke raise some valid points as to why the seemingly well-intentioned change might create some problems and even disenfranchise a minority group on campus.

“They (smokers) won’t be happy for sure, but will they just try to complain? I don’t think so. The minority won’t be heard,” said Ryan Izzedene, a junior in business and a smoker. “It’s a good message to people… smoking is not good. So I don’t think it’s a bad message. But you have to defend your individual rights.”

Many students agree, smokers and non-smokers, that even if this policy is enacted, smokers are going to smoke.

“They (smokers) are not going to pay attention to it. It will look good publicity-wise, but people are still going to do what they want to do,” said a smoker who wished to remain anonymous. “I could be solving my stress with alcohol or drugs and I’m not doing that. I’m just smoking.”

Some would argue that an outright ban on tobacco products is a bit extreme. “The whole campus (ban) is a little unreasonable, but (they should) have designated smoking areas for those who don’t care and still just want to do it,” Duvall said. “They should have some accessible areas.”

Some people are curious as to how exactly the University will enforce this policy. “It’s going to be weird because it’s legal, so are they (UWF) going to make people pay?” said Izzedene. While this is briefly touched on in the policy draft, it is still unclear as to how this will be enforced, and we are left to wonder if this is fair to smokers as they are not actually breaking any laws.

At the moment there are programs available to students who want to quit, such as the Quit Smoking Class offered at UWF by the West Florida Area Health Education Center. The program is free to students, faculty, staff and the public.

Some say a campaign of awareness and information would work better than a ban. “Yeah, I think that’s a better idea talking to people instead of just forbidding it. That’s just too rough,” Izzedene said.

For the moment, the ashtrays are still outside in their usual spots, and smokers huddle together outside the library searching for a little stress relief, so nothing has changed yet. Even smokers agree that this is a good message and that smoking is a dangerous habit that we should all work to stop. Only time will tell if this policy is enacted and it yields the desired effect, or if the whole idea will just go up in smoke.