Smoking ban may face peer enforcement difficulties

Students will no longer find a cloud of smoke when talking past the side of the Library or Cooper hall. Starting a week ago, the campus has become a smoke- and tobacco-free area.

“Much like e-cigarettes, hookahs would fall under the line of smoking,” Beverly Daly, Director of Environmental Health & Safety at USF said in an interview last November. “Smoking whether tobacco based or not tobacco based will be prohibited.”

This ban is the last leg of a task force formed in 2011 that was responsible for the creation of 24 designated smoking areas around the campus. However, the USF system-wide ban started in 2009 with USF Health and the Moffitt Cancer Center.

“One of the recommendations the task force made was that the university continue to offer programs not only for tobacco cessation and smoking cessation but also smoking and tobacco prevention,” Daly said in an interview last November.

“It’s always better to keep them from ever smoking or chewing tobacco than trying to assist in the future for stopping.”

Following the recommendation, the university set up programs and partnered with other businesses in the area to offer support for students to stop smoking. These programs are still available for students to aid in the transition into the ban.

Isabelle Lima, a freshman majoring psychology, said she supports the ban but also understands why some people would be upset about it.

“Honestly, I kind of like it,” she said. “I’m not a smoker personally, but I can see why people who are smokers don’t like that they have to go all the way off campus … for something that’s hard for people to stop. I do like it because walking past those smoking sections, it’s just a wave of smoke, which is hard to handle.”

Freshman Aurora McClure, who is currently working on quitting, was adamant about how the ban limits student freedom. The pre-nursing major argued adults have the right to make their own decisions. 

“As adults, given the requirement to live on campus, it interferes with — I want to say individuality but that’s not right. In any case, we’re adults,” McClure said.

“You can’t smoke in buildings, we all know that, so they go outside. But I don’t understand banning, especially with the e-cigs — that’s not smoke, it’s water vapor,” McClure said. “In the medical facilities, it makes sense but on the campus at large … we have to live here and it takes away our choice.”

However, for freshman Sarah Ortiz, support of the ban stems from medical concerns — mostly for secondhand smoke.

“I think it’s a good thing, especially for people who have asthma,” Ortiz said. “I know that I have asthma and a couple people in my hall do, and they’re like, ‘it’s hard for me to walk around.’ It helps people stop that habit because they can’t really do it on campus.”

While the peer-enforcement element of the policy has yet to be clarified, the faculty maintains support for the plan.

“Given the large number of visitors every day, you may come across people who are smoking who may not realize the university has restricted it,” stated the university on its website, 

“Please give everyone the benefit of the doubt and respectfully share that USF is now completely tobacco and smoke free, including e-cigarette use.”