When you can’t walk from one class to another without someone carelessly blowing a plume of vapor into your face that smells like 100 sublimated scratch and sniff stickers, it’s easy to sympathize with the campus-wide smoking ban Kent State University plans to institute next year.
Youngstown State University currently bans smoking within 50 feet of building entrances and in a few other areas.
What’s that? The last time you walked into DeBartolo Hall you had to evade the exhalations of a gauntlet of smokers? They were against that wall just outside the door!? Not even 50 feet away?!?
Therein lies the problem with a campus-wide ban. The university struggles to enforce the modest smoking ban we already have in place.
Kent’s ban also extends to chewing tobacco, which seems even more impractical and extends from protecting non-smokers or non-vapers from the unpleasant side-effects of other people’s habits to attempting to protect tobacco users from themselves.
Sure, carrying around bottles of spit tends to gross people out a bit, but those people don’t suffer adverse health effects as a result of observing such repulsive behavior. Universities should trust educated individuals to make their own decisions about their personal health, ill-advised as they might be.
Still, at YSU, improvements could be made regarding our own smoking policy. For one, the 50-foot restriction is both poorly promoted and a bit abstract. Do most smokers disregard the 50-foot restriction, or are they just unaware that the no-smoking stickers on the doors of buildings generate a 50-foot force field within which the practice is also verboten?
Some signage near areas where smokers congregate — outside DeBartolo, Kilcawley, Cushwa and Maag for starters — could help improve compliance.
And in regards to the abstract nature of the policy, does anyone have a firm grasp on what constitutes 50 feet? Maybe these scofflaws think they’re 50 feet away from buildings when they’re actually only 20 or 30 feet away. Enforcers may hesitate to confront a smoker if they aren’t sure the person is within the boundary.
The university could paint circles on the concrete surrounding entrances, but that would likely prove unsightly.
An easier solution might be creating specified places, out of the way of typical campus traffic, for smokers to congregate.
Plenty of locations would fit the bill: the area between Maag Library and Wick Avenue with the benches and trees, the area between DeBartolo and Fifth Avenue up near the Rec Center, the area north of Kilcawley between the basketball and volleyball courts and Sweeney Hall.
These are just quick suggestions; other areas surely exist. As ill-informed — and unenforceable — as Kent’s ban might be, efforts could be taken to make YSU’s campus more comfortable for non-smokers. No one enjoys smelling like cigarette and the chemical Kool-Aid smell of vape juice is often just as bad.
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