University decided, students mixed on smoking ban
The MSU campus-wide tobacco ban has come about in an effort to push the university to be a healthier and more progressive campus, and is the result of years of planning by the MSU Anti-Cancer Society.
The ban, which was approved by the MSU Board of Trustees on June 17, 2015, was the result of the MSU Anti-Cancer Society’s drive to end smoking on campus, which their president, Tristan Worthington, said had been a goal of the organization since they became an official group at Michigan State three years ago.
“At our meetings I have been challenging the Anti-Cancer Society members to go anywhere on the main part of campus and see if you can walk ten feet in any direction without seeing a cigarette butt on the ground,” Worthington said via email. “Unfortunately, no one has been able to do this as of yet.”
Worthington said he believes allowing smoking on campus creates a disconnect between the reality of MSU, and how the university is thought of around the country.
“People think of Michigan State’s campus, at least our student body, as being more of a progressive sort of university,” Worthington said. “Something that is more on the cutting edge of, in particular, the health and sciences area, on the cutting edge of research with that and on the cutting edge of those sorts of things. And people often, students in particular, often view smoking as an old way of allowing things to happen on a campus.”
In addition, MSU was simply behind the times on this issue, as more than half of Big Ten universities and over 1,500 colleges nationwide have already turned to smoke-free campuses.
Worthington said he thinks the new policy will only serve to improve MSU and possibly the entire East Lansing area.
“I am confident that this policy will make MSU a healthier place for our students, staff, visitors and environment,” Worthington said via email. “As for downtown East Lansing, I am hopeful that the campus culture will emanate to the surrounding areas.”
Some students have mixed opinions about having a smoking ban implemented next year.
Mohan Gupta, a neuroscience and psychology junior, said he does not think a ban like this is necessary and that he has doubts about how effective it might be.
“I think it’s kind of dumb,” Gupta said. “Obviously you probably just won’t see people smoking around. I don’t know how effective it’s going to be because obviously people are going to ignore it at first.”
Andrew Zakerski, a music education sophomore, said he is excited he will no longer have to smell tobacco smoke when walking to class.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it is going to benefit a lot of students and make the overall experience for visitors and students more enjoyable,” Zakerski said.
The ban will take effect Aug. 15, 2016, and Worthington said the intent of banning smoking is not to punish students who choose to smoke, but simply to promote a healthier and more progressive campus.
“The intent of this Tobacco-Free Policy is not to dole out punishments. If someone is smoking on campus there is not going to be a police officer writing you a ticket,” Worthington said via email. “The intent is that people will politely remind tobacco users that they are violating the university’s policy.”
Abdulmohsen Alshehri, an incoming freshman and current member of the MSU’s English Learning Center’s Language Program, said he is against the ban and thinks something so big should have presented an opportunity for students to vote for or against it.
“For me, I think it is a usual thing to see smokers outside the buildings smoking because they can not smoke inside. So if we don’t let them smoke inside or outside, where can we let them smoke?” Alshehri said.
Megan McKee, a marketing junior, said she is also in favor of the ban because having to smell tobacco smoke around campus is something she finds annoying.
“I don’t really think it’s necessary because people are going to do it regardless of if there is a rule or not, but I guess it could be a good thing to get it out of the public,” McKee said.