Possible smoking ban hopes to create a healthier campus

Hilary Crisan, Jason Kostura


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Video by Jason Kostura.

Students can be seen smoking cigarettes outside the Hub, while walking on campus or outside of classroom buildings at any time, but this could be a thing of the past if a new smoking ban is approved.

The Kent State Tobacco Free Campus Advisory Committee presented a report to the President’s cabinet to ban cigarette smoking on campus using a three-year plan.

The President’s cabinet is currently reviewing the recommendation and will decide to agree or disagree with the ban in December at the earliest, said Greg Jarvie, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.

According to the official report, the first phase of the plan begins with offering tobacco cessation assistance, or help to quit smoking, to current users. The second phase limits areas on campus that allow tobacco use. The third and final phase of the plan results in a tobacco-free campus, where cigarette smoking will be banned throughout the campus by 2016.

“In three years, students that have chosen to come here will know exactly what the policy is,” Jarvie said. “Those who are currently going here can go through smoking cessation classes or will graduate before the ban takes place. If this is chosen, it is as student-friendly as we can get.”

According to the official report, the survey of students and faculty, which was conducted in fall 2012, showed that 57 percent of participants believed all of Kent State’s campuses should be tobacco-free, while 43 percent do not.

“We also had multiple town hall meetings on all the campuses,” Jarvie said. “We wanted to give everyone an ample opportunity to speak their mind on the topic.”

Twenty-one town hall meetings were held in spring 2013 to gather additional responses from the university regarding the tobacco ban, according to the report. Five town hall meetings were hosted at the Kent campuses. A total of 216 faculty, staff and students were in attendance.

“The committee did a really good job of trying to take everyone’s opinion into account, to try and look at what other universities are doing and to try to weigh the pros and cons of it all,” said Eric Mansfield, executive director of university media relations. “They were mapping out certain options before choosing the option to recommend.”

According the official reports, some concerns that respondents included were the bad smell, having to walk through smoke to enter a building, cigarette butts on the ground and second-hand smoke. Concerns opposing the ban include the ban being unenforceable, personal freedoms being taken away and an unnecessary use of police resources.

Some student smokers, like Ben Huff, freshman biotechnology major, feel the smoking ban would isolate smokers.

“They segregate us as it is. I don’t think it should be banned,” Huff said. “To put us all in a little 10 ft. bench? I wouldn’t want that.”

Other students, such as Heather Zebrowski, senior nursing major, believe the smoking ban would be beneficial for non-smoking students.

“You can see someone smoking outside, and there are so many people around that. They are getting that second-hand smoke, whether they want to or not,” Zebrowski said. “So I think it’s a good idea.”

Students weigh in on potential smoking ban

“I wouldn’t mind it too much, because I can personally go four or five hours without having [a cigarette].”

— Rachel Fender, freshman, early childhood education major.

“I smoke, but I would respect the fact that we have a ban because it’s respectful for those who don’t smoke, and it would decrease the rate of second hand smoke.”

— Demetrius Wilson, sophomore, engineering major.

Contact Hilary Crisan at [email protected].