VP reviews smoking policy

It has been one month since students returned to campus, and Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields said the student response to the new smoking policy impresses him.

The new policy to turn UNA into a smoke-free campus took effect Aug. 1. Shields said he has not received any complaints of violations so far.

Shields said he thinks the transition year helped people adjust to the policy. When school started back, Shields placed ìno smoking signsî at previous designated smoking spots to ensure there was no confusion over the policy.

Shields said he carries pocket-size pamphlets with information on the new policy in case he notices a policy violation. 

ìWhere weíve seen the possibility of problems, weíve addressed those beforehand,î Shields said. ìThe intent is to be educational and not to be punitive.î

Senior Quintus Rowlett said he is surprised at the response to the new no-smoking policy.

ìPeople have been respecting the rules,î Rowlett said. ìI have not seen people smoking around campus.î

Shields said he has noticed a small problem with people smoking at areas they may not realize the university owns, such as the off-campus bookstore, or students or faculty going to private or city property to smoke. The campus is working to address this.

Another problem arose because of the demolition of Floyd Hall. Shields said if a faculty member contracts someone for a job on campus, it is his or her responsibility to inform the company about the policy.

Shields said it was difficult with the contractors working at the Floyd Hall site because the policy changed during the time they were on campus. This problem is currently under control.

Shields said he also expects a problem with upcoming games. The university is working to add additional signs informing visitors of the policy.

University officials will monitor the tailgating area at game day. Shields said the inside of Braly Stadium has always been smoke free, but now the no smoking policy will apply to the entire property since UNA runs the facility on game day.

Freshman Ben Bullion said the policy is not fair to students who use nicotine to cope with stress.

ìItís ridiculous that they expect us to up and quit smoking like that,î Bullion said. ìI have to vape in order to quit smoking.î

Shields said because of people trying to stop smoking, the university added smoking-cessation programs. This includes programs through Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Lunch and Learn events on campus.

He said he does not know how many students participate in these programs because of privacy.

ìThatís a personal thing for folks,î Shields said. ìI encourage them if they want to do that, to utilize those services.î

Shields said the new policy makes UNA ìpart of the normî now among Alabama universities.

The no-smoking policy took effect Aug. 1.

The policy outlaws smoking on all UNA-owned property, including Braly Stadium on game day, the UNA East Campus and the Mane Room.

This includes traditional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

Shields said the original policy outlawed tobacco, but the university decided not to implement this at the same time as the no-smoking policy because he knew some would have a tough time adjusting.

He said the university will look at adding a policy forbidding tobacco once the campus adjusts to the smoke-free policy. There are currently no official plans to implement this policy.