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Campus now officially tobacco-free

By William Schmidt
On August 19, 2014
tobacco-free campus sign

Signs, as can be seen above, were put in place over the summer to advertise the university’s new 100
percent tobacco-free campus policy. The Lion’s Roar / William Schmidt

As students and faculty return to campus for the fall semester, they will be greeted by the new signs welcoming them to “our beautiful, tobacco-free campus.” 

The university’s tobacco-free policy went into effect on Aug. 1, making campus 100 percent tobacco-free, which includes all tobacco-related products and e-cigarettes. 

The majority of students do not have to worry about the smoking ban on campus. According to Annette Newton-Baldwin, M.A., LPC, LMFT and licensed mental health counselor, a recent survey shows that “only 13.5 percent of [the] student population has admitted to smoking daily.”

Those caught smoking on campus will be apprehended by the University Police Department.

“If smokers are caught, they will be stopped,” said Director of the University Police Department, Harold Todd. “We have some literature that we will hand out about hazardous smoking.”

Though non-smokers and people who are allergic to smoke are happy about the policy, they worry about the safety of those who will have to leave campus to smoke.

“I’m happy about the new change,” said junior criminal justice major, Daniel McQuary. “I have always disliked the smell of smoke, and of course, the effects it can have on a person. Friends of mine are allergic to the smoke itself, so it was always a huge risk to walk around parts of campus. One downside to the change is the safety risk it poses to people who have to walk off campus.”

As of the date of publication, the most updated consequences for smoking on campus are warnings, fines and community service. 

“For the first couple of weeks, we are going to give out some warnings,” said Todd. “After the first couple of weeks, we will give out a citation of $50 or 10 hours of community service. If you are an employee of the university, faculty or staff, then that citation would be sent over to human resources and human resources would decide what the penalty would be.”

Some believe that the new smoking policy is unfair for smokers on campus.

“Most of the staff and faculty already smoke, and at least half the student population smokes. Smokers have rights too,” said psychology major Whitney Comeaux.

With the new policy in effect, all smoking parcels or ashtrays have been removed from campus leaving no area for smoking.

“I think the new smoking policy will inconvenience and negatively affect a lot of Southeastern’s students,” said sophomore criminal justice major, Michelle Pace. “It will do more harm than good, and I do not agree with it or think it is the best solution. It would be better to make smoking sections and actually enforce them instead of banning smoking all over campus.”

Faculty, staff and students will be allowed to smoke inside of their vehicles. 

Students who smoke can find relief in their car, and those on campus who would like to quit smoking can attend smoking sensation groups. Groups will meet twice a week in the counseling center for students and in the Pennington Student Activity Center for faculty. 

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