UMass Lowell’s recent campus-wide ban on smoking has created a great deal of controversy among students. The initiative for the ban began last fall and successfully went into effect this semester, leaving both smokers and non-smokers in confusion about its execution and enforcement.
Student Government Association (SGA) president Amanda Robinson emphasized that this was strictly a cultural initiative. The ban is part of an effort to create a culture of non-smoking on campus, rather than an enforced rule.
According to Robinson, there were no measures taken to hand out fines or citations. “We don’t want to fine any students who smoke, we want it to become a social norm,” said Robinson.
Students, both smokers and non-smokers, were quick to criticize the ban and its execution. Martin Wyatt, a smoker on campus, says he has not been influenced by the ban at all.
“It’s a joke,” said Wyatt. “They got rid of the ashtrays and called it smoke-free. With no negative consequences, there is no ban, just more litter.” Wyatt also stated he would be in favor of designated smoking areas on campus.
Fritz Sylvester, a nonsmoker who was in favor of the ban, was unhappy with its execution. Sylvester said, “If there’s a ban, obviously they should enforce it somehow. It’s common sense.” Sylvester, who is very against smoking, indicated he would be in favor of designated smoking areas, allowing “everyone to be happy.”
Also critical of the ban was Camden Chapdelaine, who is a smoker. Chapdelaine felt that students’ opinions were not accurately represented by the SGA in this initiative, referring to the results of a survey conducted via email last fall.
The survey, which was sent to every student, indicated that around 2,000 students were in favor of a smoke-free campus, in a university of 17,000 students. “It was very clearly not based on the feeling of the majority, who honestly probably didn’t give a crap who smoked,” Chapdelaine said.
Stephanie Chaddock, a nonsmoker, felt the ban is causing more harm than good through litter alone. With the ashtrays gone, students who are still smoking on campus are left with nowhere to throw their cigarette butts, making much more litter than there needs to be.
“Kids are still smoking,” says Chaddock, “so if they’re not going to enforce it they should have at least left the ashtrays. The campus is a mess.” Chaddock was in favor of designated smoking areas, which “would solve all the problems.”
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