In the past, Elizabethtown College has had a rather relaxed smoking policy: no smoking inside any of the college buildings. However, recent revisions to the student handbook say that smoking is no longer allowed on the Baugher Student Center terrace areas, athletic venues, and outdoor classrooms. While this is a great way for the college to work towards a healthier and environmentally friendly campus, it has caused a bit of uproar for those students who actively smoke on a regular basis.
The newest addition toward enforcing these new restrictions can be found in the matching “No Smoking/Vaping” signs outside some of the BSC entryways. The BSC is a heavily trafficked area on campus, containing the school’s only dining hall, mail room, Jay’s Nest, Blue Bean, and an array of offices on the second floor for staff. It makes sense that the administration may wish to cut down on the amount of smoking that is done in the area. While second hand smoke isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can get annoying and cause frustration for those who find themselves affected by its smell or because of a pre-existing medical condition.
For some students, the idea of working toward making Etown a smoke-free campus is something to look forward to. It’s a way to allow students to breathe easier on their way to class or before meeting up for a group project in the Blue Bean.
“I think the new policy is a great improvement,” junior Monica Venturella said. “I have severe asthma and the new policy gives me peace of mind that I can walk outside a building and not have an asthma attack. It would be great for Etown to become a completely smoke free campus, not only for my health but the health of others and future generations of Blue Jays.”
However, this attempt to completely remove smoking from campus has those students who do smoke feeling cornered and slightly marginalized. For most of these students, smoking is a way to relax and take a break from the stressful day to day of college life. It has the same effect for smokers that reading a book or watching a TV show does for others. As college students, we all know how important it is to find that one activity that we can always count on to destress with during the school year. And for some, it’s smoking.
“I can understand the need to separate us from high traffic regions,” said junior Carl Tirella. “I just wish more was done to accommodate our needs. Designated, sheltered smoking areas near but not in the way of the academic buildings and BSC, as well as residence halls, is all I and I assume many others ask for…[Smoking] is relaxing and it’s how I handle the anxiety and stress that going to Etown can cause between academics, social pressures, and personal stresses.”
The idea of creating designated smoking areas away from high traffic areas and the majority of students could be something to consider in the future if Etown decides to implement a way to allow smoking and non-smoking students to coexist on campus. While keeping smoking away from those who do not is important, it is also important not to overlook the reactions and opinions of that yet important part of the student body that does smoke.
“I don’t think they should ban it completely,” said junior Alisha Curreri. “I think there should be designated spots on campus to smoke. I think having a designated spot for each residence hall is fine and maybe a spot that’s equal distance from all of the academic buildings.”
Overall, the new revisions to the school’s smoking policy will definitely benefit the campus’ overall image and accessibility factor for current and future students. However, it is important not to completely overlook those students who do smoke. Smoking is a rather addictive activity and for many it can be very difficult to stop. Those students who find themselves smoking on the daily may now find more stress in trying to find a place to smoke than before and feel as though they are being pushed away by the College.
I believe it might be a good idea for the school to get in touch with its student body and hear a variety of opinions on the matter. And perhaps by doing so, a greater and more efficient compromise could be found between smokers and non-smokers. Etown is a school that has shown that it cares about its students’ opinions and now may be a good time to let the students speak up and for the College to listen.