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Editorial

Enforcement of university smoking ban should be up to the smoker, not others

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September 29, 2016

UW-River Falls is supposed to be a tobacco-free campus, but this semester, a visible increase in smokers can be seen in front of North Hall. It seems that the cement and brick structure near Cascade Avenue has become the new “smoker’s corner,” often filled with groups of people puffing away as students pass by during the day.

The tobacco-free campus policy was implemented on July 1, 2013, according to the university’s website. It was up for review in August 2016 and will not be reviewed again until 2019. This means that we should have three more years of fresh air while walking to and from class. It sounds wonderful.

The policy, while great in theory, is poorly enforced. Under the FAQ section of the page dedicated to the policy, it states, “The expectation is that persons will voluntarily comply with the policy.” Clearly, that is not working. The official document itself says, “Enforcement of this policy will depend upon the cooperation of all faculty, staff and students to not only comply with the policy, but also to encourage others to comply in order to promote a healthy and clean environment in which to work, learn and live.”

On the website, a card is available with a “friendly reminder” that smoking is banned on campus, also including resources for those who are looking to quit. Students, staff and faculty members are encouraged to give these cards to those who they see smoking on campus.

The thought of confronting a total stranger, even with prepared materials, is terrifying to some. It may even be impossible for those allergic or sensitive to breathing in smoke. The friendly reminder card and the script provided on UWRF’s website give options for those who are bold enough to say something. The thing is, a lot of us would rather glare at the person and hold our breath while walking past as quickly as possible.

To the smoker standing on the corner of Fourth Street and Cascade Avenue receiving dirty looks and exaggerated coughs from pedestrian traffic, please take the hint. Don’t make us bust out the passive aggressive cards. Quitting is hard, and we understand that. Putting in the effort to walk across Fourth Street, off-campus, before smoking, however, is not.