As the numbers of smokers declines in the United States, university campuses have seen an overall increase in the number of students who smoke cigarettes. In light of this trend, some colleges are turning to campus-wide smoking bans to help slow the rising numbers.
Earlier this fall, University of Colorado Board of Regents member Michael Carrigan proposed the idea of making CU a smoke-free campus through a survey of students, faculty and staff.
“I think it’s important to be invested in this and heard,” Carrigan told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Carrigan cited a number of health and environmental issues related to smoking that got him thinking about the ban. If passed, CU would join more than 100 other colleges and universities across the nation in a campus-wide ban on smoking and/or the use of other tobacco products.
Gwen Sieving, a health educator and director for tobacco control at Hartshorn Health Service, said that bans on campus smoking appear to be picking up steam.
“It’s a growing trend right now and a lot of colleges are looking at it,” Sieving said. “If it helps people quit and decreases secondhand smoke, it has to be looked at.”
Sieving said that the reason many campuses are enacting smoking bans is due to a nationwide decline in every age group, except those ranging from ages 18 to 24.
According to a 2004 survey, 20 percent of Fort Collins residents smoke, while 26 percent of students on campus smoke. In an effort to combat the number of smoking students, Sieving said that going smoke-free as a campus might help.
“Tobacco is the number one cause of death in this country, over alcohol, car accidents and homicides combined,” Sieving said. “We have to look at all of the ways to curb tobacco use and how we can decrease the number of people who start or already smoke.”
Environmental issues were also a reason many campuses choose to go smoke free. The major reasoning behind this being the litter from cigarette butts not being properly disposed of. Sieving said that even on the CSU campus, problems have come from this, citing complaints she has received from the Early Childhood center on campus.
“Butts are just being tossed on the ground and they blow onto the playground there,” Sieving said. “Kids are picking them up and putting them in their mouths because they don’t know what they are.”
Student opinions have varied on the topic.
“I think it would take away their rights as smokers,” said Lindsey Warren, a junior apparel design and production major. “To have to leave campus to smoke would be sort of unrealistic.”
“You can’t restrict someone’s choice to smoke a cigarette,” said Zach Farrell, a sophomore political science major. “It’s what they put into their own bodies, it’s their own choice.”
Farrell said, however, that he thought something should be done about the litter from cigarette butts.
“It’s just gross and disgusting, too, when you’re tossing garbage on the ground,” he said. “No one does that regularly.”
Staff writer Kris Kote can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org