Staff editorial: April 30, 2012


Story by The Spectator Staff

UW-Eau Claire just recently passed a new smoking policy establishing 18 designated smoking areas on campus.  Effective May 1, the new smoking policy will prohibit smoking on campus anywhere except in those areas as well as on city-owned streets that run through campus.

In November 2009, the Eau Claire Student Senate passed a bill to take a comprehensive look at second-hand exposure to cigarette smoking on campus.

Then in May 2010, they passed a resolution to revise the initial policy before passing another resolution in December 2010 with the goal of creating a sensible smoking policy on campus.

Eau Claire University Senate was also proposing a bill that would make the campus completely tobacco-free, but Student Senate opposed that idea and the chancellor went with the Student Senate plan.

The new policy outlines the designated smoking areas, but says nothing of how the areas will be enforced nor puts into place any punishment for smoking in a non-designated area.

Given the lack of punishment or consequence included in the new policy, the editorial board thought that very few smokers will actually follow the rules in the policy.  So essentially, this policy is meaningless.

If no one’s going to enforce the policy, what is the point of enacting it?  Granted, some members of the editorial board thought it was a step forward that Student Senate and the chancellor are actually trying to move forward with a sensible smoking policy, but this one is not going to be effective in the least.

It is not worth the planning process of coming up with a new policy if no smokers are going to follow it.  It’s a lot of fuss over this issue to just not be taken seriously.

Currently, there are signs on some buildings that say that smoking is prohibited, but that doesn’t stop many people from smoking.  Many places, such as the front of Hibbard Hall, have no-smoking signs, but then have cigarette boxes on the side of the building.

What happens is many smokers finish their cigarettes near the boxes, thereby disobeying the no-smoking signs that are there.  It’s this sort of disconnect that discourage smokers from following any sort of formal policy, and the frailty of this new one is just an extension of that.

But taking any sort of physical action like removing cigarette disposal boxes from non designated areas will just inspire smokers to litter their cigarette butts on the ground.  There’s not a whole lot to do here.

It’s also puzzling that this new policy is enacted now, two weeks before the end of the semester, only to have it likely forgotten by the time next fall comes around.

Perhaps there can be some sort of officer — even a student officer similar to the student parking officer and student patrol workers — that patrols campus and issues citations and warnings for going against the new policy.

Either way, there needs to clearer enforcement of this new smoking policy if it is to be effective.  Without, nothing about smoking at Eau Claire will change and it will appear as though the university isn’t committed in the slightest about reducing secondhand smoke exposure.