Skidmore's History with Smoking Policies: Past, Present and Future
Skidmore College is next in line to implement a new smoke-free and tobacco-free policy starting Jan. 1st, 2019 for all students, faculty and employees, as well as outside visitors. The school is set to join more than 1,400 colleges nationwide who ban smoking on campus and 1,137 campuses who are completely tobacco-free.
This change is nothing new for Skidmore’s campus. Skidmore instituted a similar policy in 2012 and later revised it just two years later in 2014. Yet the purpose has always remained consistent: decrease “the potential exposure of students, faculty, staff and visitors to the effects of second-hand smoke [providing] the community with a healthy, respectful working and learning environment.”
Flash forward four years later to 2018, and not much has changed: the policies are still evasive and unsuccessful, largely due to the fact that they do not specify exactly who’s in charge of implementing the new policies. In a campus-wide letter sent to students by President Glotzbach, he stated how the “new policy was developed following an extensive, yearlong review of the current smoking policy by the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee's Subcommittee on Student Affairs, in collaboration with the Safety in the Workplace Committee.”
Evidently, the various subcommittees’ recommendations have been “gathered through community meetings and two surveys that had approximately 1,600 participants.” While the demographics of these participants remains unknown, several students have raised concerns about the policy’s effectiveness, or lack thereof:
“How are you going to police people that are going to smoke outside of Case, the walkway, the library? Campus Safety has other troubles—they’re not going to go around tracking students and employees. There are already designated areas that say where you cannot smoke, just stick with that,” explains Cristianel Gil, a non-smoking student.
Regarding compliance, the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, Cerri Banks, has listed the procedures in place to address violations of campus policies. Employees who violate the policy will be addressed through “educational and corrective measures” and students will be referred to the Integrity Board, while visitors who violate the smoking policy may be removed from the building and denied re-admittance.
These procedures, while possibly ensuring the implementation of the no-smoking policy, can also invoke a sense of distrust on campus. The new smoking policy also seems to lack nuance and detail, as it does not explain or differentiate between procedures concerning different types of smoking, like e-cigarettes.
“I’m curious about e-cig users. I just don’t think those people can be caught. I don’t think anyone can be caught unless we have Campus Safety stationed at every corner. That would insight paranoia, though,” expresses a student smoker on campus. “I think more studies are needed to understand how college anti-smoking policies affect student smoking behavior,” the student continues.
The new policy has the potential to open students and members of the Skidmore community to conversations around smoking behaviors and who might be at risk of addiction. Yet although the policy includes different resources for anyone who has quit or is thinking about quitting smoking, these are not mentioned until the bottom of the page.
As for whether the new policy will prove effective or whether more will be done on campus to assist students seeking help with smoking issues: only time will tell.