The freedom to chew tobacco or light up on campus has been stomped out.
As of fall, Texas State will be a tobacco-free campus. The administration characterizes this as a step toward becoming a progressive, healthy university. In her announcement of the ban, University Presidentcited the harmful effects of smoking and second-hand smoke, and a survey of about 1,300 students that showed 67 percent in favor of a tobacco-free campus.
The editorial board does not dispute smoking’s ill effects, but the ban is undermined by one gigantic problem — enforcement. All a person has to do is look at the copious amounts of cigarette butts next to the benches of the “smoke free zone” of Alkek Breezeway to know the current policy is not enforced. If the university can’t enforce the current policy, which restricts tobacco use in The Quad and other areas of campus, how do administrators expect to compel students to comply with the new one?
In an April 27 University Star article, Capt. Rickey Lattie of the University Police Department, said administrators are “hoping for voluntary compliance” and had no plans to allocate additional resources to enforcement of the ban.
does not regularly patrol the campus for smokers, nor does it have the resources to do so. With that in mind, the ban seems just for show — the university’s latest attempt to garner a good reputation without doing anything concrete (kind of like the name change, but with less alumni backlash).
The administration is correct in focusing its efforts on ventures other than tobacco-ban enforcement. With the budget shortfall, ever-increasing enrollment, multiple campus construction projects and plethora of other issues facing the university, Trauth cannot allocate manpower to an issue so trivial by comparison.
Even though the campus-wide ban is unenforceable, students should have been consulted on a larger scale. The administration undermined the Associated Student Government by neglecting to solicit their input, announcing the ban after its last meeting of the year.convened anyway and voted to bring the ban to referendum on this year’s homecoming ballot, but if the administration keeps with its current trend, it will likely ignore the student government’s efforts. It would be embarrassing for the administration to back peddle, but not nearly as embarrassing as the Student Health Center’s nifty new “Breathe it up ‘Cats” slogan already on its website. Perhaps even more troubling is that ASG did vote against a tobacco-free campus in Spring 2010, an official stance taken by student leaders that wasn't taken to heart when the decision was made.
The one good notion to come out of the tobacco ban is a free smoking cessation program and discounts on medication to help students quit. If the administration truly wanted to improve the health of students, it would invest more in resources like these. At the end of the day, it is unlikely a student would quit smoking because Trauth made a tobacco-free campus proclamation. But the individual may quit with support from other smokers-in-remission and 50 percent off nicotine patches.
The administration may have tried to extinguish smoking on campus, but without any real plan or resources to see it through, these efforts seem to be an unrealistic goal.