MU to become smoke-free July 1
There are no set consequences for smoking on campus in the new policy.
Jun. 17, 2013
A colorful sign plastered on a yellow sandwich board in the middle of Speakers Circle congratulates MU’s move to a 100 percent smoke-free campus, effective July 1.
Additional boards stand outside other frequented spots, including the Student Center, Memorial Union and Plaza 900, informing faculty, students and Summer Welcome groups of the new smoke free policy.
The previous phase of the new policy had allowed smoking only in designated outdoor areas and on the top level of parking structures.
Originally projected to begin July 2014, the smoke-free campus policy was moved to a starting date of January 2014 before being fast-tracked to July 1, 2013. The smoke-free initiative prohibits smoking everywhere on campus.
Various smoking-related policy changes have been in the works for a few years, as MU first banned smoking in the dorms and eventually limited it to designated outside areas. Conversations about making the entire campus a smoke-free property began as early as 2008, said Terry Wilson, director of the health promotion and wellness department at the Student Health Center.
“It’s been going on for a long time — the initiative to move the campus to smoke-free — but there’s a lot of resistance along the way,” Wilson said. “You have to be patient when you’re changing a huge public health policy like that.”
More than 1,000 universities in the U.S. have already adopted (with some yet to take effect) 100 percent smoke-free campus policies, according to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.
Wilson said the Student Health Center has received input from students, faculty and staff regarding second-hand smoke inhalation on campus, and the health concern is the primary reason for supporting the policy’s implementation.
“The Student Health Center’s mission is very consistent with the smoke-free campus initiative,” Wilson said. “Tobacco smoke has been classified as a Class-A carcinogen; it’s cancer-causing. So there’s really no safe level of exposure, and it’s considered a toxic air contaminant.”
Smoking is the top-ranked preventable cause of death and leading preventable cause of disease and disability in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sophomore Claire Schroeder said she supports the idea of a smoke-free campus.
“(Smoking) affects other people because they have to breathe in what you exhale,” Schroeder said. “I personally don’t enjoy walking to class behind someone who’s smoking a cigarette, and I think it’s a good idea to try to encourage people to stop smoking on Mizzou’s campus.”
Smoking of e-cigarettes will be banned on all MU properties as well, according to the policy outlined on the Smoke-Free Mizzou website.
The policy does not explicitly state any consequences or penalties for smoking on campus.
Aside from a possible added stigma against smokers and assumed social pressures, senior Hannah Cushman said she doesn’t see the smoke-free policy changing smokers' behaviors.
“I don’t smoke a whole lot, but when I do, I try and stay away from groups of people, and I try to be considerate, away from doors, that kind of thing,” Cushman said. “I really don’t think (the policy) is going to stop me from doing it.”
According to the Smoke-Free Mizzou website, “all members of the university community share the responsibility of adhering to and enforcing the policy and have the responsibility for bringing it to the attention of visitors.”
But Schroeder said she would likely not approach someone violating the smoke-free policy.
“They want to go smoke-free on the campus, but I don’t really see a lot for enforcing that, other than asking (violators) politely,” she said.
For some students, the absence of strict enforcement and a vague compliance structure make it a policy with more bark than bite.
“I think it’s less from a health standpoint and more from an appearance kind of thing,” Cushman said. “I respect that they’re trying to make the campus look better and if it’s something that they can put in a brochure, then that’s fine. But for me, it seems like it’s more for appearances than anything else.”