Should we stigmatize smoking?
According to the College’s handbook, students, visitors and College employees are not permitted to smoke in any residence hall on campus, nor within 25 feet of any residence hall. Violations of these rules can result in sanctions of a $150 fine, referral to the Judicial Board and removal from Campus housing.
The Maine Tobacco Free College Network (MTFCN), a partnership among the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association of Maine and several colleges, is working to create tobacco-free campuses in Maine; its most recent accomplishment was a tobacco ban on the University of Maine Orono campus.
In 2008, the state of Pennsylvania banned smoking on all 14 of its state university campuses, and many other campuses have followed this example. In January of this year, the City University of New York system, the largest urban higher-education system in the country, passed a ban on tobacco use on all of its 23 campuses. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, at least 466 campuses in the United States have completely banned smoking or have passed resolutions to implement a smoking ban. Proponents of banning smoking on college campuses point to the home-environment of campuses and the positive effects that smoking bans can have on developing healthy lifestyles for students. The MTFCN also cites that smoking incurs unnecessary costs on colleges including “fires, maintenance costs, decreased worked productivity, and increased health care costs.” Will the trend on banning smoking make its way to the Hill?
One of the most common usages of tobacco on college campuses is “social smoking”: smoking while hanging out with friends, drinking or partying. “Social smoking” can have the same effects of regular smoking, including addiction. “Social smoking” is not foreign to the College. “I would never smoke during the day, but sometimes when I am out with friends and other people have cigarettes, I smoke one,” said an anonymous sophomore. While a certain amount of “social smoking” seems to be the norm on the Hill, thoughts on more regular smoking seem to differ.
A sophomore female who smokes consistently said, “There is definitely [a stigma attached to smoking], especially among lots of athletes or environmental-type people.” It is hard to say if there is a consensus on a stereotype, but another sophomore female referenced stereotyping, saying, “I’m not sure what it is—either international students or kids like from NYC and stuff, like hipsterish.” Whatever the disadvantages or advantages to banning smoking, the requested anonymity of these interviewed suggests that there is a stigma attached to smoking on the Hill.
Just like off campus, people choose to smoke or not smoke for different reasons; perhaps the College’s only distinction from smoking off the campus is the prevalence of “social smoking;” something that is common on college campuses nationally. “Social smoking” would most likely be affected by a College ban on smoking considering much of the College social scene on weekends is centralized on the Hill.
According to the MTFC, the highest percentage of smokers in Maine is between the ages of 18 and 24, and college students make up a large percentage of that number. Nationwide, 27 percent of college students smoke. On the topic, an anonymous junior said, “If it’s legal, we should be able to do it. If we are allowed to smoke outside in the ‘real world,’ we should be allowed to smoke outside at Colby. Banning smoking would only encourage the detachment from reality that is already present at Colby.”