Codey bans smoking in all college dorms

After Acting Gov. Richard Codey signed legislation last Monday banning smoking in all public and private colleges and universities in the state, College administrators began the process of implementing the policy on campus.

The bill, S-2332, introduced to the state legislature in February, orders “the appropriate governing body, board or individual responsible for or has control of the administration of a school … (to) make and enforce suitable regulations controlling the smoking of tobacco on their premises.”

At the College, this responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the office of Occupational Safety and Environmental Services.

The bill also states that schools have 60 days from the time of enactment – until Oct. 21 – to draft and begin enforcing the regulations.

“That’s what they’re really working on right now,” Matt Golden, assistant director for public information in the office of College and Community Relations, said.

“The legislation is pretty clear; it does prohibit smoking in all the residential facilities on campus. What they’re looking at now is a couple of things: enforcement of the regulations and communication with the campus community about it.”

According to Brian Webb, occupational safety specialist for the office of Occupational Safety and Environmental Services (OSES), the College’s specific policy will be included in this year’s Guide to Residence Living, which is maintained by the office of Residential and Community Development (ORCD).

The regulations will also be included in the College’s Indoor Air Quality Program maintained by OSES.

Webb said those documents are currently being revised, and “enforcement of the law will be accomplished through documentation, ORCD staff and fines issued by Campus Police Services. ORCD will initiate judiciary proceedings for all residents who do not comply with the law.”

Students caught violating the law face a $100 fine on top of any judiciary proceedings brought against them by the College.

The law requires that the College post signs in the entry ways of all residence halls informing students of the ban. ORCD staff will also post signs in the hallways of the residences and remind residents of the ban during floor/house meetings.

Webb also indicated that a campus-wide e-mail will be sent in the coming weeks informing students of the ban.

This is not the College’s first foray with the idea of implementing a smoking ban. Last year, the Committee for Student and Campus Community (CSCC) began investigating the possibility of enforcing a smoking ban independent of state legislation.

According to Glenn Steinberg, chair of CSCC, the committee was asked at the beginning of last year to reevaluate the College’s existing smoking policy, which allowed smoking in buildings in which air was not re-circulated from room to room.

A survey was distributed to students via an e-mail that, according to Steinberg, received almost 1,000 responses. The survey asked students: “If you had the choice, would you have chosen to live in a smoke free dorm?”

“The overwhelming majority said they would indeed choose a smoke-free dorm if they had the option,” Steinberg said.

However, some students indicated in their comments that the reason they wouldn’t choose a smoke-free dorm is that they didn’t want to infringe on other students’ right to smoke, Steinberg said.