University implements non-smoking policy

Despite some student protest, UNA became a smoke-free campus Aug. 1.

The board of trustees approved the policy at its meeting June 7.

The new policy prohibits smoking on all university-owned and operated property, including East Campus, The Mane Room and Braly Stadium on game days. This includes traditional cigarettes, as well as vaping products or any product producing smoke while in use, said Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields in an April 6 For-Ala article.

This policy does not apply to all tobacco products, but Shields said a tobacco-free policy is something the university may look into once campus adjusts to the new smoking policy.

“The University recognizes that quitting smoking can be a significant personal challenge,” Shields said. “As such, the University will provide ongoing information, education and support to faculty, staff and students on a variety of wellness initiatives, including cessation aids and programs.”

Shields said he hopes one day it will be normal for UNA to be a smoke-free campus.

UNA is relying on all faculty, staff and students to enforce the policy, Shields said.

Shields said he plans on taking a “soft approach” to enforcing the policy by educating students and letting them now the university has programs to help them in this transition.

If students continually violate policy, UNA will refer the student to the code of conduct, Shields said.

Junior Alex Jones said UNA is being unfair to students who pay to come to the university.

“We are grown adults,” Jones said. “Smoking isn’t illegal. We should be allowed to choose if we want to smoke or not.”

Shields said he thinks a smoke-free campus will mean an overall healthier campus with less class absences due to sickness.

Shields said he is working to implement anti-smoking programs to help students adjust to the new policy.

Associate professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation Lee Renfroe and her graduate student Jackie Allen have been researching wellness initiatives to support the new policy. This includes working with Blue Cross to introduce wellness tools and programs.

Shields said in a Flor-Ala article he plans to use the research to help encourage those who wish to stop smoking.

Blue Cross and other organizations will join UNA in offering “Lunch and Learn” programs. This is a tool many organizations use to supplement training policies or education initiatives.

Shared Governance groups are also working to develop an ongoing Wellness Task Force to promote a healthy lifestyle in staff and students.

UNA will also offer a new wellness website, as well as programs to encourage physical activities.

The previous policy stated smoking was not allowed within 30 feet of a building entrance or walkway. Shields said this policy was difficult to enforce.

The new policy is not just for students and faculty. Everyone on the UNA campus must abide by the rules, Shields said.

Shields said when the university began enforcing the designated smoking areas, campus was not very receptive. As time went on, the policy was more accepted. He hopes to see the same response to the no-smoking policy.

Sophomore Sebastian Motley said he understands the university policy, but thinks the temporary policy where smoking was only allowed in designated smoking-zones was more considerate of student opinions.

“I feel like they will have a tough time enforcing the policy,” Motley said. “I can understand why they made the decision, but personally I feel like the designated smoking areas were a much better idea.”

Shields said he knows the next few years will not be easy, but he hopes students and faculty will be receptive of the change.