Campus enforces smoke-free policy

In the transition year, UNA created smoking areas for students and faculty, said David Shields, Vice President of Student Affairs.

In fall 2016, students returning to campus found “no smoking” signs across campus.

Despite some protest from students, UNA’s policy will apply to all of campus fall 2017 to make UNA one of the last universities in Alabama to go smoke-free.

The change in policy came after the UNA executive council brought a proposal to the board of trustees for a smoke-free campus.

In March 2016, the board of trustees passed a resolution to change the university policy to a smoke-free campus effective fall 2017, said Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields.

The policy applies to all UNA owned property, including East Campus, The Mane Room and Braly Stadium on game days.

Shields said he is working with facilities to post signs on campus informing visitors UNA is a smoke-free campus.

This policy includes traditional cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes.

“If you can’t do it on an airplane or in a movie theatre, you can’t do it on campus,” Shields said.

The Board of Trustees is using the 2016-17 school year as a transition year to becoming smoke-free by introducing designated smoking areas.

Shields said the Student Government Association pushed for a transition year.

SGA President Sarah Green said when SGA interviewed students, they said they wanted designated smoking areas permanently to fix the problem some have with smoking on campus.

In the transition year, UNA made five smoking areas for students and faculty, Shields said.

There are no current plans for UNA to keep the smoking areas. For this to happen, the board of trustees would have to pass a new policy, Shields said.

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.

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.”

Green said when students first heard of the change to smoking areas, SGA heard a lot of complaints from students who felt like the policy infringed on their rights. Since then, complaints are not as frequent.

Shields said he hopes to see the same response to the no-smoking policy.

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

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

UNA plans on taking a “soft approach” to enforcing the policy by educating students, but if students continually violate policy, UNA will refer the student to the code of conduct, Shields said.

Shields said UNA has a faculty member researching smoking on campus.

The university is currently not releasing the name of the faculty member researching the issue.

Shields plans to use the research to help promote staff and students stopping smoking.

Freshman Kat Hall said she does not feel smoking is a problem, but she understands why UNA made the policy change.

UNA is offering programs about stopping smoking through university health services to encourage students and faculty to educate themselves on smoking, Shields said.

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

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

The official policy states the university will be smoke free. This is not the same thing as tobacco-free, Shields said.

Shields said going tobacco free is a consideration the university faculty may look into once the UNA campus adjusts to the new smoking policy.