'Tobacco-Free' campus: clouded in smoke
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Saturday, February 2, 2013 17:02
After the Southern University Board of Supervisors approved a ‘tobacco-free’ system in October 2011, The university prepared for the policy to be effective January 2, 2012.
Now in January 2013, the policy is posted to the Southern University website with a task force of prominent figures on campus in support but, facing a ‘smoky haze’ when it comes to enforcement.
Act 815 of Louisiana law states that all Louisiana schools are to be smoke-free.
The SU ‘tobacco-free’ policy states; “Consequences of violating the policy represent a range of sanctions that could include but are not limited to verbal warning, written documentation/warning, and dismissal/expulsion proceedings for both employees and students. Sanctions for student violators will be addressed by Judicial Affairs and for
employees by Human Resources.”
The policy has still not been completely implemented and a date is still not been revealed for the implementation and enforcement of both state and campus policy.
The Southern University System through the Communities of Color Network, an affiliated program of The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living will utilize educating the students, faculty and community about both the health benefits of being tobacco free as well as the dangers of smoking for both smokers and non-smokers.
When the policy goes in to full effect, Chief Ronald Stevens said that Southern University Police Department’s job will be to issue a misdemeanor summons and the department will be in charge of enforcement.
“When the legislature put this law in order, they made the violations punishable,” Ronald Stevens, Chief of SUPD said.
According to the Louisiana state law the first offense is $25, the second offense $50, and every offense thereafter $100. Violating this law is considered a misdemeanor.
“Those people who violate the policy will be given a misdemeanor summons and they shall appear in court to answer to a judge for that violation,” Stevens said.
Anyone who does not show up to court will have a warrant for that person’s arrest.
In the Housing contract for all residential students, it states that smoking is not allowed in any residential area and Southern is a tobacco-free campus, upon signing each resident is held accountable according to the contract.
“Students that continue to break the rules that is in the Housing contract will not be tolerated,” Tracie Abraham, Interim Director of Residential Life and Housing said.
Students caught smoking in their rooms will be fined and repeat offenders of the housing contract will be forced to vacate campus.
According to the ‘tobacco-free’ policy, “Residence Hall staff will be responsible for addressing all violations with residence hall students while on or around residence hall property including, but not limited to parking lots, walkways, courtyards, building entrances and exits.”
Signs are being posted to notify students and visitors alike; students have differing opinions on the need for a ‘smoke/tobacco-free’ campus and system.
“No, I don’t agree with smoking, but there should be a designated area,” Timothy Smith, senior, English and liberal arts major, from Plaquemine said. “If it’s a law then it should be implemented.”
Professor in World History Theopolies Moton said he agrees with the policy for health concerns.
“I support this policy, because Nicotine is the one cause of cancer in the African community, “ Moton said.
Phyla White a freshman nursing major from Slidell said, she ‘s glad the policy is at SU, “I don’t like smoking.”
While Perry White a junior political science major from Chicago said, “I support it to some extent, in some instances tobacco is not healthy for you, but if you are outside then you should be able to.”
For visitors, the policy applies as well stating, “Visitors who do not comply will be removed from campus at the discretion of University Police.”
The Tobacco-Free Policy states the following: Use of tobacco products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, bidis, hookahs, smokeless or spit tobacco, snuf, snus) is prohibited by students, staff, faculty or visitors in all campus buildings, facilities or property owned or leased by Southern University System and outside areas of the campus where non-smokers cannot avoid exposure to smoke.
“This is not just for the school but, the community as well. Informing them about Tobacco use and the damages of second-hand smoke,” Frankie Polland, Regional coordinator for communities of color network.
One of the primary reasons for the SUS Tobacco-Free policy is for a healthy place, to live, work and learn. Part of this is the creation of a task force comprised of representation from nine departments on campus.
The Department of Residence Life and Housing, Student Affairs, Student Health, Athletics, SU Law Center, SU Ag Center and the Department of Environment, Health, Safety and Risk Management have representation in the force.