Florida Southern students ready for smoking policy change
Unlike the 477 college campuses across the United States that are 100 percent tobacco-free, Florida Southern College continues to permit smoking on campus.
According to the Community Living handbook, residential students have the right to “a clean environment in which to live.” The policy related to smoking states, “Smoking inside all college buildings is prohibited, including the use of electronic cigarettes, vaporizers or any device that emits smoke or vapor.”
In the student handbook, smoking falls under the Student Code of Conduct Section 4 Part i. It states that a violation of the code of conduct occurs when a student or student organization “uses cigarettes, vaporizers, electronic cigarettes or any device that emits smoke or vapor inside any college building.”
Smoking violations can result in a $50 fine for the first offense along with any additional sanctions assigned.
Director of Wellness Alicia Rowe said that, in the past, the college offered programs to help students quit smoking. However, because the turnout was never high, the Wellness Center now refers students to programs in town.
“The program was available to students and something we would love to fully bring back, but the interest would need to be there,” Rowe said.
CVS Health recently conducted a survey on public attitudes towards tobacco usage. The survey had a special focus on attitudes related to college students.
About 75 percent of respondents saw smoking as a problem on college campuses, but 49 percent of the college students and parents who were surveyed agreed that tobacco-free campus policies help reduce tobacco use among college students.
More than half of the college students surveyed said that a tobacco-free campus was an important factor in their college decision.
In a similar survey conducted among Florida Southern students, 54 percent agreed that smoking is a problem on colleges campuses. A further 61 percent said that tobacco-free campus policies help reduce tobacco use among college students.
According to SGA president Caitlyn Johnson, the topic of a smoke-free campus was brought up in a recent Town Hall. The faculty panel went over the current policy that the college should be following based on Florida state law.
“We are currently not working to alter the policy at this time, but [we] have devised a plan if the next Executive Board decides to add it to their agenda,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said that, though SGA does not have an exact answer to what is inhibiting the change, the administration noted that previous Executive Boards found that the student body as a whole did not want the change.
However, according to the recent survey, 70 percent of respondents were in favor of Florida Southern implementing a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy.
“My dad, who works at a university back home, was shocked and disgusted to learn that FSC isn’t smoke-free,” one respondent said. “As someone severely allergic to cigarette smoke, it is frustrating trying to walk to class and constantly having to walk through clouds of smoke [because] it causes my eyes and throat to swell.”
An 18 percent minority of students were opposed to further restrictions regarding the campus smoking policy.
“Since students are required to live on campus, and not everyone has transportation to an off-campus location to smoke, it would not be in their best interest,” another respondent said. “Even as a non-smoker, I think it would be a very inconsiderate policy.”