COLUMBIA — A new smoking policy went into effect Tuesday on the MU campus, but smokers seem to be taking a casual attitude toward the new restrictions.
The regulation requires smokers to move 20 feet away from any building entrance, exit, window or fresh air intake system on university-owned or leased property. It is the first revision to the campus smoking policy since 1998.
“I don’t think it will really go into effect. I see people smoking outside all the time,” said MU student Andrea Johnson, 20. “I guarantee a lot of people don’t know about it, and I don’t see how they can enforce it. It’s going to be interesting."
Authorities are planning to regulate the policy by voluntary cooperation, according to Christian Basi, a university spokesman. Specific consequences have also not been mapped out.
Smokers like Johnson and Ashanya Indralingam say they find the new policy to be inconvenient and unenforceable.
“I don’t really smoke on campus, so I will probably follow it,” said Indralingam, 22. “I don’t think others will. People just smoke wherever they want to. It’s hard to stop people from doing what they’ve been doing for a long time.”
Nonsmoking students like Nicole Seifert say they would like to see the new policy enforced to minimize the amount of cigarette smoke in the air around campus.
“What is the purpose of going through all that work to make it a rule if there are no consequences?” said Seifert, 19. “It seems like everyone is getting parking fines, but there are no consequences for secondhand smoke. It’s like stealing someone’s parking spot is worse than cancer.”
Nonsmoker Christina Robinson favors the new policy but does not believe it goes far enough.
“I would prefer a smoke-free campus, but I completely agree with (the new policy),” said Robinson, 19.
The revised policy followed recommendations by a campus task force composed of faculty and students, smokers and nonsmokers. The group held two forums and e-mailed a survey to the MU community.
Fifty-seven percent of the respondents preferred a smoke-free campus, but the task force did not believe this was a large enough majority to recommend a complete ban. They chose a compromise that ramps up restrictions as MU strives to be smoke-free by 2014.
Students will decide whether smoking is allowed on residential hall balconies where they live. MU officials do not have jurisdiction over Greektown, and the policy does not apply to the sorority and fraternity houses.
MU Health Care remains smoke-free.
“Hopefully by the time I get into nursing school I will have quit smoking. I’ve cut down a lot and I want to quit because it’s horribly bad for you,” Johnson said. She said she has been a smoker for four years.
MU will be working with the T.E. Atkins University of Missouri Wellness Program and the MU Wellness Resource Center to provide smoking cessation programs for students.
“We are giving folks the tools to make this program successful,” Basi said.