UNM is preparing to transition to completely smoke and tobacco-free campuses by September 2017, and plans to levy large fines on those who do not abide by the policy. This includes the Health Sciences Center and the UNM Hospital areas of campus.
Pamina Deutsch, University Policy and Administrative Planning director, said in order to implement the policy, UNMPD will be sanctioned to issue citations.
“Fines for noncompliance are graduated and start at $100,” she said.
Deutsch said the new policy stems out of a desire by the University to provide a healthy environment for all members of the campus community — students, employees and visitors.
Policy 2250 was revised in May, with the goal of having most of the designated smoking areas terminated by next fall.
“Smoking and tobacco use are known health hazards, not only to smokers but also to passersby and others who are subjected to secondhand smoke,” Deutsch said. “Smoking and tobacco use diminish the beauty of UNM’s campuses and increase maintenance costs by requiring the regular removal of butt litter and other smoking and tobacco debris.”
Vaughn Hubbard, a senior political science major, said smokers have earned their right to have smoking areas.
“I feel, considering that smokers contribute a large portion to the taxes of the state through the taxes on cigarettes, that we should be given areas to smoke,” he said.
Hubbard said, while college is necessary to better one’s future, it is extremely stressful.
“If we’re not allowed to smoke then that causes even more stress upon those of us who do,” he said.
Hubbard said, at the same time, smokers are trapped in an addiction and should only be restricted so much.
“The state telling us that we can only smoke in certain areas was a good enough step,” he said. “But removing them completely from campus is going to scare off potential students who do smoke.”
Although Hubbard said he is trying to give up smoking, but said with the new restrictions he would just end up smoking on campus secretly.
“It’s hard sometimes to even reach the designated smoking areas that do exist as it is, with classes the way that they are,” he said. “So, it would definitely be a big burden and I would probably end up having to change my schedule around knowing that I’d have to go to a new designated area.”
Madeleine Corbett, freshman undecided major, said further restrictions will not affect her smoking habit.
“It kind of sucks that I’ll be charged if I’m caught smoking on campus, but I’m already a poor college student,” Corbett said. “I know it’s bad for you, but it’s like a personal decision, you know?”
According to Deutsch, the Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention intends to teach and deploy “ambassadors” to promote awareness of the policy revision.
“Campus Security personnel have been walking around with copies of the policy and maps of the designated smoking areas to inform people of the designated areas,” she said. “In addition, the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act requires UNM to maintain smoke and tobacco-free areas around building doorways, windows and ventilation system intakes.”
Tamim Alsaqer, a senior finance and marketing major, said the campus acceptance of smokers was much different at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, with “little gazebos” all over campus to smoke.
As far as the change at UNM, he said students will still smoke.
“I think it’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time,” Alsaqer said. “People are going to smoke suspiciously if they’re on campus after working on a project or something.”
Alsaqer said smoking is an outlet for people on campus to de-stress between classes.
“Some people don’t smoke but they start smoking around finals,” he said. “So that could be something that the campus should know about.”
Alsaqer compared a smoking citation to the penalty of parking tickets on campus.
“I think UNM is really capitalizing on the parking industry and everything else,” he said. “Whereas they should actually focus on other stuff for people on campus.”
According to Deutsch, the implementation next year will hold several exceptions, at least at first.
On Main Campus, two designated smoking areas will remain by the residence halls in order to accommodate students who live on campus, Deutsch said. Meanwhile, at HSC, all designated smoking areas will be eliminated except for two at University Hospital, which are required under a collective bargaining agreement.
The aspiration and expectation is that, in time, UNM will be completely smoke and tobacco-free, she said.
UNM administration encourages smokers and other tobacco users to participate in a free State of New Mexico program that can help them quit. This can include three months of nicotine replacement therapy and assistance from a “quit coach.”
“I’m sure that no one who does smoke is going to tell you that it’s actually good for you. We’re all aware of the health complications associated with it,” Hubbard said.
Sarah Trujillo is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sarahtweets_abq.