February 16, 2016
By Marty Carlino
On Wednesday, Feb. 3, Dominican University officially announced a ban on all tobacco products, scheduled to take effect in August of 2016. The idea of a tobacco free campus is something that’s been on Dominican’s mind for quite some time. Originally proposed in 2008 by student lead organizations, the tobacco ban has been in the works.
University officials want to stress that communication will remain positive throughout. It has yet to be determined how Dominican plans to spread the word, but negativity will not be a part of it.
“We really want to build a positive culture around this,” said Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the wellness center. “The plan is for a lot of signage, especially targeting areas where people smoke.”
One of the main reasons to launch the ban was a health concern for everyone on campus.
“We really want to look at this as a health initiative,” said Carol Seley, business operations and risk manager. “We don’t want this to be punitive. We’re not trying to tell you that you can’t smoke, we’re just saying you can’t smoke here.”
The problem of second-hand smoke was also a major health issue that was factored into the decision.
“Research is very clear that second-hand smoke is very bad for you,” said Ritzman. “There is no way for someone who is smoking to make sure that nobody gets impacted by the residue of their smoke. We’re trying to make the campus a place where people can expect the air to be clean.”
Once put into effect, enforcement of the tobacco ban will be treated similar to current university policies. “For students, it will be a code of conduct,” said Seley.
Lack of compliance among students has not been a huge concern. “I don’t see people not complying, unless they’re trying to make a point,” Seley added.
University officials are hoping for student support, and they will receive it from Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA). At SGA’s annual bi-weekly meetings, the student leaders voted in favor of full support of the tobacco ban.
“SGA has voted, after a lot of deliberation, to support the tobacco ban on campus,” said SGA President, Will Schuneman. “We recognize that there will be some issues which will arise out of this, and we will handle them accordingly.”
The announcement of the tobacco ban has raised reactions from smokers around campus.
Professor of Accounting and a smoker of nearly 50 years, Khalid Razaki, understands the policy.
“I love smoking, but the only thing that was always a bother to me about smoking was that it bothers other people,” said Razaki. “It may cause me some inconvenience, but I support it. It’s a good policy.”
While many on campus understand the policy, there are students that are quite upset.
“We definitely feel offended,” said Jesus DeLeon. “There’s only a focused number of us on campus but we’re disappointed.”
Others have questioned if a complete ban is even necessary.
“Banning smoking inside is understandable, but we feel that banning smoking outside was a little much,” said Lauren Buckley.
“In terms of health, it’s the right move and they have the right to do so, but they could have made a move somewhere between the two,” said Chris Schwarz. “Stick us in the parking lot, we’re fine with it.”
Come August of 2016, anyone on either of the two campuses with the desire to smoke will have to leave campus to do so.