At SUNY campuses from the University at Buffalo to Upstate Medical University, and, most recently, all CUNY schools, smoking cigarettes has been completely banned.
Binghamton University, however, currently has no plans to follow suit. BU spokeswoman Gail Glover said that the University is “not looking at such a ban.”
But a Pipe Dream survey found that a majority of BU students who were asked would support a smoking ban on campus.
Of those surveyed 61 percent indicated that they would either strongly support or somewhat support a smoking ban, and about 25 percent said that they would somewhat or strongly oppose a ban.
About 69 percent of respondents reported that they are irritated or annoyed by cigarette smoke or smokers on campus somewhat, to a high degree or to a very high degree, and 31 percent said that they were affected by smoking to a low degree, a very low degree or not at all.
Of all those polled, 62 percent indicated that they had never smoked a cigarette, even once.
Support for a smoking ban was found even though 37 percent of students at BU reported smoking at least once in their life and 25 percent reported smoking within the last 30 days, far above the national average of 16 percent reported in a study by the American College Health Association done in the spring of 2010.
Opinion was sharply divided between smokers and non-smokers.
About 79 percent of students who never smoked said they would support a campus-wide smoking ban. On the other hand, 30 percent of students who reported having smoked at least once in their life said they would support a ban.
Among frequent smokers, opposition to a ban was more firm. For those who said they smoke a few times a week, 60 percent oppose a ban, and all of those who said they smoke a half of a pack a day indicated they would be strongly opposed to a ban.
About 81 percent of students who believe that secondhand smoking is very dangerous to their health said that they were very irritated by cigarette smoke or smokers on campus. Fifty percent of people who believed that secondhand smoke is “not at all” a health concern were “not at all” irritated or annoyed by cigarette smoke or smokers on campus.
Those who supported a ban frequently expressed the belief that smoking poses dangers to others, while those who opposed a ban often insisted that individuals have the “right” to smoke.
“Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and there is no safe level of secondhand smoke — if you can smell smoke, you are breathing in cancer-causing chemicals,” said David Dunn, vice president for health services at University at Buffalo, a school that banned smoking on its campus, in an interview with the UB reporter.
Martine Casey, a junior double-majoring in environmental studies and philosophy, politics and law, said she believed there was a good “chance you are going to smell the smoke around you.”
James Parisot, a first-year doctoral candidate in sociology, said he felt that a ban would be an overreach of the University’s authority.
“I think people should have the right to smoke,” Parisot said. “It’s their choice.” He suggested that a better idea would be to create designated smoking areas.
Some students raised doubts that a smoking ban could be successfully enforced if implemented.
“I don’t think it would work,” said Brea Oliver, a junior majoring in archaeology. Oliver pointed out that bans of other substances do not largely prevent students who wish to use them from doing so.
Many also pointed to common and blatant violations of BU’s current smoking policy. The University forbids smoking within 25 feet of building entrances, operable windows, air intake vents or trash bins.
Seemingly in contradiction to this policy, however, the University places smokers’ poles next to the entrances of buildings, and as a result these rules are rarely respected or upheld.
According to an official in Binghamton’s New York State University Police, campus police generally does not deal with smoking complaints, which usually fall under the purview of the Office of Residential Life.
Anika Knight, a junior majoring in biology, said she sees people smoking under air vents.
“[People] laugh at the rules,” Knight said.
Jared Kirschenbaum, president of the Student Association, said that he has received numerous complaints regarding violations of the policy.
“A big issue is with students that are not adhering to [staying] 25 feet away of the building,” Kirschenbaum said. He added that this was “affecting students who don’t want to breathe in smoke.”
But Kirschenbaum also acknowledged the desire of many students “who want to exercise their right to smoke.”
“We need to find a happy medium,” he said, urging that “both sides of the issue” be represented.
The school’s policy on smoking is “something to be looked at,” he said, adding that “there’s work to be done” regarding implementation of the current policy.