Smokers continue to light up despite limitation policy

Despite MU's new smoke-free policy, people are smoking outside of the designated areas on campus.
MU is in the process of becoming a smoke-free campus. Despite the rules set in place, students smoke in places where they aren't permitted.

Despite a new policy that limits smoking to designated areas on the MU campus, many smokers continue to smoke outside of approved areas.

The policy, which took effect July 1, restricts smoking to areas outside of 15 buildings on campus plus most parking garages. This policy is a transition toward an eventual ban of all smoking in campus, which is expected to be implemented Jan. 1, 2014.

Nevertheless, students say smoking outside of designated areas on campus continues to take place.

"I see it all the time," freshman Austin Fortner said. "I've even seen a worker at the university smoking in a doorway at Jesse Auditorium."

Although MU student Taylor Huffman uses the designated smoking areas, she said she has noticed her fellow smokers violating the policy as well.

"I've noticed them ignoring the policy, but I've also noticed that no one really says anything," she said.

According to MU's "Smoke-Free Mizzou" website, the policy is supposed to be enforced by the university community.

"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," the "Respect and Responsibility" section of the website states.

Fortner said he sees the policy as difficult to enforce.

"I definitely don't feel comfortable asking a stranger to stop smoking," he said. "The students shouldn't be the ones who have to enforce it."

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the policy will remain community-enforced for now.

"It's going to require self-enforcement," Basi said. "We're hoping that as we continue to educate the campus about this, people will understand the policy and continue to comply with it, as well as enforcement by everyone in the campus community,"

Some smokers are also unfamiliar with the rules.

"I'm kind of new," graduate student Ashutosh Rajpat said. "I don't know about the designated areas on campus. I was told that if you are over 21, you can smoke on campus."

Basi said MU is addressing this issue.

"They have various educational campaigns that happen," he said. "Whether it's through MU Info, an article in Mizzou Weekly or their website, and as we have more and more visitors on campus, there will be communication campaigns to let those folks know what they can expect when they come on campus."

The feedback received by the university over the current policy has been mostly mixed so far, Basi said. But he said a small majority of the response has expressed a desire for a more restrictive policy.

Fortner said he agreed MU needs to be more aggressive in addressing the issue.

"I think the university needs to crack down more on students smoking in non-designated areas," he said.

Huffman said non-smokers have the right not to have smoke blown in their faces, but said the 2014 smoke-free policy is way too restrictive.

Basi said MU might refine the policy going forward, depending on its effectiveness.

"We will probably take the information gleaned from how the policy is currently working and then decide, 'Do we need to make some changes to the policy? Do we need to do anything differently? Or is it working the way we expected it to?'" Basi said.

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