A Yale University committee will send out a survey this month to faculty and students to gauge support for a ban on smoking, according to The Yale Daily News. If the ban is enacted, the university would join nearly 500 colleges with smoke-free campuses.
Penn’s current smoking policy prohibits anyone from smoking within 20 feet of any University facility.
In response to concerns of the feasibility of Penn as a smoke-free campus, Earth and Environmental Science professor Michael Kulik noted that this policy is already commonly violated.
As an instructor for a course on tobacco addiction, Kulik asked students to draw a chalk circle with a radius of 20 feet around random buildings and observe if the policy was followed. Students found that the policy was constantly disregarded, he said.
“Most people don’t know the length of 20 feet, don’t know the policy exists or won’t care if it's too cold or if they’re only going out for a quick two puffs,” Kulik said.
According to Kulik, there are two main reasons why many universities are hesitant to institute a campus-wide smoking ban. First, it would harm small businesses like convenience stores in the area. Second, it infringes on citizens’ rights and an individual’s right to exercise autonomy, he explained.
Kulik added that the most successful basis for smoking bans has been when people continuously exposed to smoking — such as employees in bars — advocate for change.
Smoking at Penn is often met with stigma and social pressure to quit, he said, emphasizing that smoking on Penn’s campus is often “less associated with cool or glamorous lifestyle choices.” Kulik added that many students refuse to date smokers.
College freshman Mary Alice Solmssen noted that although many Penn students may not be regular smokers, students often occasionally smoke at parties in tandem with the consumption of alcohol.
“I feel like when people are in a situation — like at a party or place where others are smoking — they will smoke as well,” Solmssen said.
Kulik explained that most tobacco research shows that students start smoking due to stress-related issues or peer pressure.
Solmssen agreed. “When you smoke, it becomes a stress reliever because you can take five minutes to go outside and be by yourself — away from meetings, people and other things.”
“I would be really upset, and I think it would be absurd” if Penn were to institute a stricter smoking policy, College sophomore Jonathan Wilt said.
“Penn is the largest employer in Philadelphia so if we were to go smoke-free, that would definitely make a statement,” Kulik said.Comments powered by Disqus
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