Has the Smoking Ban Worked Out?

Erin Almeter, Staff Writer

In July 2017, Mercyhurst University officially transitioned to a tobacco free campus.

The ban was meant to reduce the use of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, dipping and vaping among other tobacco products on campus.

It is one of 2,469 100% smoke-free campus sites according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

Now two years later, many students, including myself, are questioning the effectiveness of this ban on those that use these products as well as the secondhand smoking effect.

Has it curbed the usage on campus?

Do students that don’t smoke still experience secondhand smoke?

I am happy that this was initiated on campus as I have had family members’ health affected due to tobacco smoking.

I have promised myself that I will not take up smoking of any kind due to seeing these health effects.

However, I still experience it because of secondhand smoke.

Generally, I was hoping that this initiative would curb my exposure to smoke.

From recent experiences, I have not found it to be too effective.

Many students, faculty and staff can still be seen smoking or vaping around campus.

I have walked past the sidewalk by the bookstore and still have been hit with a cloud of smoke.

I hold my breath often when walking in this area on my way to class.

I still see people outside of Ryan Hall with a cigarette or vape pen in hand.

I still see students sneaking an e-cigarette in hand or tucked in their backpack.

I guess the biggest difference is that instead of walking through campus and seeing people smoke, it has turned more to people smoking on the outskirts of campus.

I have also seen people smoking in the streets as they are owned by Erie and not part of the Mercyhurst campus officially.

Freshmen may see more of a decline in usage than upperclassman.

I have recently been working on a research project surrounding the vaping emergence for college students especially, so I guess I see the effects of it more.

I am not naïve though, I didn’t think that this ban could get rid of all usage when it was first put in place.

I was hopeful though.

I really do believe that this ban, in theory, was a necessary thing to do for the Mercyhurst community.

However, I also believe that it is necessary for Mercyhurst to go further and provide information on possible cessation aids to quit tobacco.

There are also always going to be people that will not be able to stop or choose not to stop.

That could be tied to the nicotine content in these products.

This is why we need to go further than just banning it and provide educational materials.

I also believe that with vaping becoming more prominent, that the initiative should address the use of flavor cartridges.

Are these included in the ban?

I do not know.

There is only one page dedicated to the tobacco-free campus policy in the student handbook, and it does not mention flavors at all.

From my own survey for my research project, it seems that while most people know that Mercyhurst is a tobacco free campus, many also do not believe it is very effective.

Students think people still use in secret and that there are not many ramifications to those that use on campus.

I think that this initiative is a good starting place, but we need to go further for the health of those in Mercyhurst’s community.

While some usage has been curbed around the middle of campus, I think more focus needs to be put on the use of tobacco products on the outskirts of the campus in the future.