Students unaware of smoking policy on campus

Some students are unaware of the University’s smoking policy, which states that students must be 30 feet away from a building to smoke.

“I didn’t know there was a rule and I’ve never seen it posted so I didn’t know there was a distance factor,” said Nicole Birch, a senior.

This policy was updated in Feb. 2008, now reading, “In an effort to prevent outdoor smoke from permeating buildings and affecting indoor occupants, University policy prohibits smoking within a minimum of 30 feet of any entrance, exit, open window or air intake to a building or facility.”

The posting of the 30-foot rule is in effect at high traffic areas where complaints have been reported to the Department of Public Safety. These spots include the entrances to the Law School, the Marillac breezeway and the residence halls.

The Marillac breezeway is a common target for complaints from non-smoking students.

“If it’s really busy there it bothers me,” said Geoffrey Smith, a junior.

He thinks that the University’s smoking policy is beneficial, however.

“The 30-foot rule is good because [smokers] have a choice to go somewhere else but to enter that building, you don’t have much of another choice,” he said.

According to Thomas Lawrence, vice president of Public Safety, complaints about smokers are only reported “maybe about twice a year” on average.

When a complaint comes in, common procedure is for an officer to be sent out, and if the smoker is still there, to ask the individual to adhere to the 30-foot rule. But Lawrence said that the University community should also aid the officers.

“It is the responsibility of everybody to assist,” Lawrence said. “If you see someone by a door smoking, ask them to step away from the entrance.”

Colleen Greaney, director of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety said that community involvement helps.

“I’d say people are really cooperative when they’re asked to be mindful and considerate of others that are around them.”

Greaney also said that the policy is not posted on every single entrance on campus to allow for flexibility when there is more than one entrance to an area.

“It’s not so much that we have a hard and fast 30-foot perimeter around every building, it’s more about raising an awareness of who [smokers] might be impacting.”

When asked if administration would consider making St. John’s a completely non-smoking campus, Greaney said that the 30-foot rule is a first phase approach.

“We decided to incorporate the 30 foot rule into the current smoking policy and see if that worked,” she said. “If we find a lot of defiant people out there then we might proceed to another phase and tackle the question as to whether we should go completely smoke free.”