USD campus to be smoke-free in 2015



Smokers on University of San Diego’s campus will have to find a new place to puff next fall.

A new tobacco policy will go into effect at USD beginning in August 2015. While the current policy falls in accordance with California law, which bans smoking within 20 feet of building doors and windows, the new policy will prohibit any smoking or tobacco use on all USD property. USD is following in the footsteps of University of California San Diego and San Diego State University, both of which have already enacted smoke and tobacco-free campus policies.

USD’s new smoking and tobacco-free policy, though not yet in effect, has already garnered mixed reactions from the student body. However, USD remains hopeful that the overall transition will be smooth.

The threat of secondhand smoke is a concern to nonsmokers across the country. According to the Center for Disease Control, CDC, secondhand smoke contains about 70 chemicals that are carcinogens, meaning they can cause cancer. Over 7,300 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by secondhand smoke exposure alone.

To combat the risk of secondhand smoke, the state of California passed Proposition 99 in 1988. The proposition increased the state cigarette tax by 25 cents a pack and dedicated those funds to tobacco research and use prevention. Twenty percent of those funds have been dedicated to the state Health Education Account, which helps to fund programs such as Smoke-Free San Diego. USD has recently partnered with Smoke-Free San Diego to begin providing resources to promote smoking cessation after the new policy goes into effect.

Stephanie Lynch, the assistant director of USD’s Center for Health and Wellness Promotion, is confident that the new policy will satisfy more students than it will upset.

“Because we have student data from our USD health survey that we do every two years, we know that our rate of smoking here is significantly lower than other campuses,” Lynch said. “We are hoping that overall this is not going to impact our students too much, but we know we have staff and faculty here too who smoke so there is that population to account for too.”

To aid in the success of the new ban, CHWP is establishing a community enforcement model to stop tobacco use on campus.

“We are asking our community to be educated about the policy,” Lynch said. “When they see someone violating the policy [we want students] to feel empowered to politely ask them to refrain from smoking and to offer them resources.”

Repeat violators of the tobacco ban will be subject to the student conduct process, though specific consequences have not yet been decided. Promotion of the new campus policy will begin in the spring of 2015 to ensure students are aware of the ban.

While some students are looking forward to the ban on tobacco products, there is another population that is already dreading the upcoming policy.

Junior Khalid Assalloum has been smoking for three years, and though he is willing to comply with designated smoking areas, he is frustrated by the impending campuswide ban.

“I feel like since we’re paying so much [to attend USD] they should consider that some of us smoke,” Assalloum said. “I think it’s a good thing to try to contain the smoking on campus, but I feel banning it entirely isn’t the solution.”

Even some non-smoking students on campus are sympathizing with tobacco users.

While senior Kelsey Grey does not smoke, she does not believe that the policy will be well-liked by all USD students.

“I mean smoke does smell and it doesn’t exactly make me feel healthy when I’m taking in somebody’s cigarette smoke, but I think people need to realize that people who smoke can’t just quit on a dime,” Grey said. “Some people have such a strong addiction that they need to have a smoke break outside of the classroom.”

Grey instead offered a solution that she believed would appeal to smokers and nonsmokers alike.

“I think the middle ground to please both parties is to have designated smoking areas on campus, away from buildings,” Grey said.

Sophomore Chloe Spilotro says that growing up in Las Vegas she has acclimated to secondhand smoke and is indifferent to the new policy.

“I don’t think the school can tell people not to smoke, but they can tell them where to smoke, and I guess that’s going to be off campus,” said Spilotro.

While USD is predicting an easy transition to becoming smoke free, student feedback is showing disinterest toward the new policy. Students seem to be less threatened by the negative effects of secondhand smoke, and instead are more intimidated by a policy that will stand between individuals and their free will on campus.