Smoking policy changes spark debate

There has been a recent change in the tobacco/smoking policy here on campus. According to an e-mail sent out to all Keene State College students, “The policy is in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week during all days of the calendar year.”

The policy goes on to state that “smoking, vaping and the use of all tobacco products is prohibited inside all buildings owned and occupied or leased and occupied by KSC including the College Camp on Wilson Pond.”

This policy change is an addition to a rule that was put in place last year regarding being 25 feet away from buildings while smoking.

Many students (mainly non-smokers) were pleased by this rule change. However, many report little to no change. Although they put the policy in place, there was no true enforcement of the rule.

It is important to acknowledge that there are two sides to this coin. On one side we have the smokers. These individuals have the legal right to purchase cigarettes and other forms of tobacco – that is without question.

Ambiguity comes into play when it begins to interfere with the breathing of non-smokers.

Photo Illustration by Luke Stergiou / Equinox sTAFF

Photo Illustration by Luke Stergiou / Equinox sTAFF

The Equinox sees both sides of this issue. Many students on this campus wish to go about their days without inhaling too much tobacco. However, it is important to realize that smoking is a personal choice for individuals. The question at hand is how do we create a balance for both the smokers and non-smokers?

We believe it is difficult for smokers to abide by the 25 feet rule because there is no true designated smoking area on campus. Many other colleges dedicate a specific area to smoking. Another issue is rain and snow.

When the weather is unpleasant, it’s difficult for students to want to stray 25 feet away from the buildings. Not only that, but if they’re 25 feet away from one building, that probably means they’re within 25 feet of another building.

In essence, this rule is inefficient. Not only is it minimally enforced, but the enforcement itself isn’t solving the issue.

According to the email sent out by Vice President of Student Affairs Kemal Atkins, the decision to update the tobacco/smoking policy was driven by the introduction of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

The Equinox agrees that there has been an influx of these types of devices on campus lately, so it isn’t surprising that administration would act in response. The email includes a portion about ensuring the overall health and safety of the student body. It reads, “KSC is committed to providing a safe and healthy working and learning environment for the students, faculty and other academic appointees, staff, visitors, alumni, volunteers, contractors and vendors. All members of the campus community are expected to observe this policy.”

Sound promising right? Not so much. We suggest you keep your eyes open regarding this issue. Notice how many smokers you see puffing a cigarette directly outside the student center or the dining commons. More times than not, you will not come across a figure of authority telling them to do otherwise.

We believe students deserve to exercise their rights in terms of deciding to smoke.

With that said, we also ask the smokers on this campus to be mindful of those around them. If the weather is decent enough, try to take the 25 feet rule seriously.

We encourage smokers to be respectful of those around them and ask non-smokers to respect smokers’ decisions as well.

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