Smoking is an issue on campus, I am fired up

Isn’t the University of North Alabama supposed to be a smoke-free campus? Oh, it is. I was only checking because it seems a lot of people may have forgotten about this.

Since classes have started back, I have seen many people smoking on the sidewalks on their way to class. Some people inhale with a vape pen hidden in their clenched fist and wait until they think no one is around to exhale, while others do not even try to be discreet about it.

Maybe it is not that policy has been forgotten, but that people are ill-informed. With it being a new semester, I can understand that freshmen and transfer students might come in not fully knowing the policy. Maybe they do not know until a friend tells them or they are shown otherwise by a randomly placed “No Smoking” sign on campus. Or, maybe the smoking policy is just not being enforced properly. Scratch that, I know the smoking policy is not being enforced properly on campus.

According to UNA’s Employee Policy Manual and Handbook, the university recognizes smoking as a public health hazard and prohibits it on all university-owned and operated property both indoors and outdoors.

Smoking has especially been a problem near the Student Publications Building, where both The Flor-Ala and The Diorama are stationed.

Last time I checked, this building, located behind Willingham Hall and adjacent to the Women’s Center, is still on campus. Although it is a long stride to the building and it can seem detached from the university, it is very much on UNA grounds.

In-between classes, I often take refuge in the Student Publications Building. One day I was scrambling to find my Mane Card in my backpack and two people emerged from the side of the building, a smoke cloud trailing behind them. And so, the next day I checked the area for proof that they were smoking and found cigarette butts thrown carelessly beside our back door.

At first, I figured these people were smoking across the street and walked beside of the building as a shortcut to get back on campus. I was wrong, very, very wrong. Instead, they were sitting on a bench that was stationed on the side of the building. One person even asked me if I needed to smoke as if this had been a designated smoking spot all along.

I feel as though the university groundskeepers work so hard to make the campus appealing students. People, who decide to disregard campus policies and smoke anyway, should consider this when they are lighting up. Cigarettes being disposed improperly can make the campus look cluttered.

Smoking is a personal choice. I am not asking them to quit. I am only bringing forth a public health issue that seems to be overlooked at times and expressing a need for better policy enforcement.

Out of respect for the UNA campus and for others, do not smoke. But, if you must do so, please clean up your mess. Thanks in advance.