Second step of MU plan to ban smoking takes effect

Thursday, July 7, 2011 | 6:42 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — With the start of July came the second step of MU's three-step plan to become a smoke-free campus by 2014.

People can smoke in areas around 15 designated smoking urns on campus, in MU parking lots or on the top floor of MU parking garages.

"I think it's a little ridiculous, and outside is everyone's technical property," said Dustin Ramirez, a delivery driver for Domino's Pizza on campus. "They already took cigarettes away from inside of buildings — they cannot take it away from outside."

Ramirez thinks the plan is respectful, but also a little unfair to people who smoke, such as himself.

The university began the transition toward a smoke-free campus in 2008, and people who smoke have been required to do so at least 20 feet from building entrances since then.

Ramirez was one of several people interviewed around campus Wednesday about the latest step in the plan.

"I don’t think people will care about this policy," he said. "People are going to smoke anyway. They are not illegal. I wonder what the penalty would be given if I smoked (outside of a designated area)."

MU spokesman Christian Basi said any action taken by MU officials for violation of the policy will depend greatly on the situation.

“Education is a large part of the policy," Basi said. "As more people are educating about the current restrictions, we hope that we will see fewer violations of the policy.”

Smoking areas were selected based on looking at where people typically went to smoke, Basi said.

At the MU Student Center, employees of Tiger Tech were smoking behind the building, which is a non-designated area. The employees said they knew they should be smoking somewhere else and that an eventual campus-wide ban is unrealistic.

Evan Whittaker, a Tiger Tech employee who has been smoking for two years, said it might affect his short break time.

“It’s a little over the top," he said. "I understand health concerns, but I think (the designated area) should be doubled. I think there is going to be a major opposition to a complete ban.”

Chase Whisenhunt, who also works at Tiger Tech, said smoking should be a personal choice and it would be a hassle if it’s prohibited on campus.

"People are going to smoke, and you can’t limit it,” Whisenhunt said. “I think if you want to ban cigarettes on campus, I think you should take away things that kill as many people as smoking, such as trans fat, first.”

Junior Laura Orozco, who plans to quit smoking, said she is encouraged by the prospect of a smoke-free campus, but more information is needed.

"And I understand the health purpose. But I also don't really follow it," she said. "To me, it's just a formality, like alcohol in dorms."

Senior Dylan Muckerman said he's never smoked a cigarette in his life, but he said he understands the perspective of some people who smoke.

"They do a good job on encouraging (people to quit), but especially if you have a job on campus, I think at least a few areas are necessary for workers,” Muckerman said.

Students can find information on how to stop smoking through the Wellness Resource Center.  Faculty can find details through insurance information on the UM System website.

Basi said he expects that it will take time for everyone to know about MU's push to go smoke-free and that there will be visitors, new students or people who've been away who might not know about it.

"If you find somebody who isn't following the policy, go up to them and tactfully tell them about it," he said. "If it keeps occurring, people can report it to the building coordinator, and he or she will work with that person and make a judgment on how to proceed."

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Chase Whisenhunt July 7, 2011 | 10:27 p.m.

If someone is is in violation of the newly established policy, Basi suggests that readers of this article tactfully walk up to them ask them to do otherwise / inform them of the policy. I honestly believe a situation like that developing as such: person walks up to person smoking and says "hey, you can't smoke here", said person then does one of two things, either puts it out or becomes defensive. If the situation becomes defensive (which it will) then you have created a sort of animosity between the people. There are no laws which prohibit people from smoking outside that can result in a fine or punishment. Do building coordinators have the right to come outside to a person smoking and ticket them or enact a consequence on them? What would the ticket be for? How would one determine the cost? Where and to what use would the money go? There exists no concrete scientific evidence that second hand smoke kills people. When smoking in the designated area today I felt like I was on display. The few of us that were smoking were just looked at as if we were animals at the zoo. Is singling out smokers to make them feel guilty or as if they are doing something risque the solution? I would really be interested to know who actually enforces the policy and the guidelines for fines that could follow. For example, if someone were smoking and a person who has the right to enforce the policy comes up to them to ticket them. If the person puts out the cigarette as they approach that authority figure cannot prove the person was smoking at all. Roughly 435,000 people die from tobacco use every year followed up by about 400,000 people that die from obesity. If the university wants to ban cigarettes because of the health concern and as a medium for encouraging smokers to quit... then the university should get rid of energy drinks (which are basically nuclear waste in a can with sugar), foods containing high amounts of fat, and basically the majority of boxed and frozen food served all over campus. All of those items kill relatively the exact same amount of people. Even if I didn't smoke, which I haven't always, I would still be in the smokers corner. I believe that it is an indefinite right to be able to take pleasure in a personal choice which harms no one but the individual concerned. This is what makes America great, we can be as successful as we so choose based on our work ethic, or we can choose to squeak by on Uncle Sam's dollar. We can choose to be an athlete and dedicate ourselves to being in top physical condition, or we can be as fat as we choose and eat Big Mac's for breakfast. it's our choice. Freedom of choice is what makes America great. Don't take that away.

(Report Comment)
Larry Li July 8, 2011 | 12:01 a.m.

Two words: secondhand smoke.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 8, 2011 | 11:05 a.m.

One word: dilution

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 8, 2011 | 11:42 a.m.

I want a non smoking break at my employment.
This smoke break thing is really unfair to the non smokers.

Since "outside" is technically everyone's property I think I will use it for a urinal...

(Report Comment)

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