New policy clears smoke on campus

A new sign greets people as they enter campus. UNA will be completely smoke free by fall 2017.

News Editor Kaitlyn Davis

Smoke from tobacco and non-tobacco products will soon be drifting away from UNA’s campus forever as the university moves toward becoming smoke free.

The Executive Council hopes UNA will be completely smoke free by fall 2017, but until then, the university will be in a “transition” period, said Vice President David Shields.

This year of transition will include temporary smoking areas and educational programs to help campus members kick the habit if they would like to quit smoking, Shields said.

“So, for this year the only place you will be able to smoke on campus are the seven designated sites that are on that map,” Shields said. “There are six here at the main campus, and there is one on-site at the east campus. Those are the only places you’re permitted to smoke.”

The Executive Council tried to make these locations convenient for smokers, Shields said.

“We placed these locations in a way that no matter what building you’re in, you’re within the same distance of a space,” Shields said.

This new policy does not apply to smokeless tobacco products, but the smokeless tobacco policy is subject to change in the future, Shields said.

Right now, the previous policy still applies which states students are not allowed to use smokeless tobaccos products within 30 feet of windows or doors, he said.

To ensure smokers know where they can and cannot smoke, Shields encourages communication amongst campus members about the new smoking zones, he said.

“We’re going to take a long approach with people because we know it is a shift, and it is a change,” he said. “It’s not our intent to be (punishing). We’re not going to be writing tickets.”

The decision to become smoke free came after deliberation between the shared governance groups on campus after President Kenneth Kitts asked the groups to review the smoking policy, Shields said.

Faculty senate, staff senate and the Student Government Association Senate make up the shared governance groups.

“There was consensus amongst the three groups that the current policy we had was not working,” Shields said. “People just weren’t following it.”

A smoke-free campus would create an atmosphere that promotes good health, Shields said.

Not every shared governance group was in agreement with becoming a smoke-free campus.

Instead of becoming completely smoke-free, the majority of students voted for smoking areas on campus in a survey for the SGA Senate in Feb. 2016. SGA Senate campaigned for the areas on behalf of the students.

But SGA President Sarah Green does not feel the campaign was a failure, she said.

“Our resolution asked for the smoking zones or the smoking hubs, and that’s what we got this year,” Green said.

The Executive Council feels the transition year is a good compromise, Shields said.

“We wanted to be respectful to the Student Government and the work that they had done,” he said.

However, Junior Kris Dewberry said he does not feel the Executive Council made a fair decision.

“I think it’s completely unconstitutional and unfair to the students,” Dewberry said. “I’m very offended (the Executive Council) would not take in the students’ account. They say that they took in the students’ decision and said ‘OK we’ll think about it.’ I don’t think they did.”

While the majority of students voted for smoking areas on campus, freshman Maria Najera said she agrees with UNA’s decision to become a smoke-free university.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Najera said. “I mean, there’s a lot of health issues to smoking, and plus, there’s a bunch of areas really close that’s off campus that if someone really wanted to smoke they could just go there.”

Editors Note: The following quote from Shields was removed, “Plus, we were the only university left in the state of Alabama that was not smoke-free.”

While many universities in the state have smoke free policies, some like the University of Montevallo, Birmingham Southern College and Jacksonville State University do not.