POV: Campus smoking ban ill-conceived

Editor's note: The author is interning in the Spotlight News newsroom.

A journalism professor of mine at SUNY New Paltz joked that he always knew which of his students were the smokers, as they continuously looked at the clock and tapped their fingers in anticipation of their next smoke at the end of class.

When it comes to smoking, the New Paltz campus has a policy that all smokers must stay 50 feet away from entryways to dorm and classroom buildings when having a cigarette, but those who abide by that rule are few and far between. Walking through campus, you can see smokers, students and professors alike, sitting on dorm patios (barely 10 feet from entryways), and benches just outside of classroom buildings. Yet, in my three years at New Paltz, I have yet to see campus police monitor smokers.

With cigarette butts littering sidewalks and students caught smoking cigarettes in dorm rooms, smoking has clearly become a problem for campus officials and the custodial staff. After my professor joked about student smokers, he brought up a serious question: How much is spent cleaning the campus up after smokers?

Recently, the SUNY Board of Trustees approved a ban on smoking on state university campuses. While the ban has yet to be put into effect by the New York State Legislature, some campuses, such as SUNY Buffalo and Cortland, are already smoke-free, and rumors have been flying that there will be a smoking ban on all SUNY campuses by January 2014.

While a non-smoker myself, I began to wonder about the logistics behind campus-wide smoking bans. There is something illogical about imagining students and professors running off campus property for a quick puff of a cigarette between classes. And although many students would not complain, there is also the issue of professors needing to cross campus to smoke, which will inevitably cut into class time.

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