New smoking policy in full effect on campus

Credit: Celia Ludwinski/Assistant Photo Editor Credit: Celia Ludwinski/Assistant Photo Editor

Smokers coming back to campus may be greeted with more than a hello from University Police if they are caught smoking outside one of the designated areas; they could be given a $25 fine for smoking or for littering their cigarette butts.

New and returning students have seen the signs scattered around the University Center’s Merson Courtyard, near the Cut, and other places on campus that warn of the consequences of smoking in a non-designated area. These signs are the manifestations of the changes in the university smoking policy that came about as part of the Healthy Campus 2010 program.

Healthy Campus 2010 is an initiative that examined potential strategies to improve the physical and emotional health of our campus community. It not only addressed tobacco use on campus but also discussed ways to create incentives for positive health behaviors and looked into options for healthy dining on campus.

“The [Healthy Campus 2010] Task Force examined the Carnegie Mellon environment and culture, the resources that currently exist, and the extent to which these resources meet the community’s needs,” stated Kelley Shell, a health promotion specialist at the university.

The changes to the smoking policy, which are now being fully enforced, are a product of the Healthy Campus 2010 initiative. After the designated smoking areas were announced to the campus community, a grace period was enacted where students caught smoking outside of the areas would be warned and told to extinguish their cigarettes, but not given any fine. The grace period, however, has now expired, and the final and permanent phase of the program has begun, in which students can expect to be fined if they are caught smoking in a non-designated area.

“While we do not anticipate having to rely on the use of fines, they are intended to deter people from smoking outside designated areas, as well as littering cigarette butts,” Shell stated.

Not all students share Shell’s belief that the fines will be able to keep violators from smoking outside of the designated areas.

“I don’t think the fines will really stop me from smoking. I’m still going to smoke on my way to class; I’m just going to hope that I don’t get caught,” said Simona Saracco, a junior materials science and engineering major.

In a statement sent out by Anita Barkin, the director of Student Health Services, and Madelyn Miller, director of Environmental Health and Safety, when the policy change was approved last November, they said, “While we realize that the new policy may inconvenience some smokers, it will help to make the campus a healthier place, and we hope it will encourage some smokers to quit.”

Along with the implementation of fines, the university is enacting other measures to help those who wish to stop smoking. Shell explained that Student Health Services offers a free support program as well as discounted nicotine replacement therapies for any student, staff, or faculty member interested in quitting smoking. In addition, the university is partnering with Mercy Behavioral Health to offer free group cessation programs on campus. An employee program will began on Aug. 21, and one for students is in the process of being planned as well.

Anyone interested in more information about the smoking policy can either visit [SLANT12][SLANT12] or send an e-mail with any questions to [SLANT 12][SLANT 12]. Those who would like to learn more about the smoking cessation program, or those who would like a friendly way to direct smokers to smoke only in the designated areas by picking up a supply of reminder cards, can e-mail Shell at [SLANT 12][SLANT 12].