Tobacco-free campus not so tobacco-free

Despite the new tobacco-free policy at USF, which began on Jan. 4, students continue to smoke in former designated smoking areas. ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

Despite being newly tobacco-free, USF’s campus has not been without smokers in the former designated smoking areas, and it has not been without the vapor from the devices that have become so popular.

But questions have remained regarding how the university expects to enforce the policy.

According to USF Director of Environmental Health & Safety Beverly Daly, the university expects students to enforce the policy among each other through peer enforcement.

In an emailed statement to the Oracle, the university states “if a person is seen violating the policy, they should politely be asked to stop.” 

However, some students have chosen to ignore the policy. Every day, dozens of students still stand outside the library in the former designated-smoking area and light their cigarettes.

“They say that USF is a tobacco-free campus, but if you cannot smoke inside the campus, where will you smoke?” a student smoking outside the library said.

According to Tobacco Free Florida, the state banned smoking indoors in 2003, with the exception of bars.

“Campus is not small, it’s 1,900 acres,” the student said. “Getting out of campus between classes is damn difficult. The second thing is… putting these kind of posters up just shows that the university does not legally support smoking.”

According to the university’s statement, the consequences of continuing to break the rule depend on the person’s relationship with the university.

Students who continue to use tobacco products after being asked to stop will be reported to Student Rights & Responsibilities. Likewise, employees who are identified as having disregarded the policy will be reported to their supervisor. 

Although, there are some students who feel the ban is simply unfair.

“For me, they’re just testing my patience, because it’s a requirement for me to live in the dorm, and I’m staying there, and the campus is smoke free,” another student smoking by the library said.

But USF feels it provides enough options for smokers to break the habit. On its website, the university has links to several online resources for quitting, as well as information about on-campus initiatives to help smokers break the habit.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website that in 2010, more than half of the 43.5 million smokers in the U.S. stopped smoking for at least a day in the preceding year because they were attempting to quit.

However, according to, only between 4 to 7 percent of those who try to quit smoking are able to do so without help.

Yet, while helping people quit smoking and trying to enforce the policy are valiant goals, many students are unwilling to single out others and confront them.

“If someone observes the policy being violated and prefers not to engage the person, they can ask to speak with the facility/building manager of the nearest building and report the offender,” USF’s statement said.

Building managers can be identified at the front desk of the respective building, and can be reached on a walkie-talkie. 

“One time, one person came up to me and asked where the designated smoking areas were,” Renee Garcia, one of the building managers of the Marshall Student Center, said. “I just had to tell him that there weren’t anymore. He showed a little frustration, but he just left after that.”

Otherwise, though, Garcia said he hasn’t had to address any student smokers around the building. 

While students get used to the process and the campus gets clearer and clearer air, students are encouraged to be polite and do their part.