A smoke-free campus?

The Norwich University administration is currently working towards passing a tobacco and smoke-free campus policy, according to a member of the Student Government Association (SGA).

“The tobacco policy was sent from the health and wellness committee”, said Josh Vanlaar, 20, a junior criminal justice major from Denton, Kansas. “They deal with the safety of our campus.”

The SGA is entirely student run. All the representatives are students elected by students, a process designed as an attempt to represent both corps and civilian students. The SGA works to improve the campus life and mediate between students, faculty, administration, and alumni.

Vanlaar is the vice president of the SGA, whose role includes reviewing requests from faculty for new student policies as well as student club applications. They provide official recognition.

The university already expressly prohibits smoking inside all NU owned, leased, or rented buildings. In addition, Norwich: “prohibits smoking within 50 feet of (1) any entrance or exit or (2) any operable window or (3) any building ventilation-system intake of buildings owned, leased, or rented by Norwich,” according to the student rules and regulations.

The tobacco policy is not only aimed at smoking, but at tobacco products such as chew, dip, snuff, and electronic cigarettes as well. As students themselves, the SGA staffers are trying to get a feel for what the students think and feel about the policy, according to Vanlaar.

Not all students and faculty appear to be pleased with the proposed expansion of smoking rules. “I would not support the smoke-free campus policy because if a person is 18 they have the legal right to purchase and consume tobacco products,” said Daniel Feyler, 21, a junior political science from Marshfield, Mass. “The campus should not stomp on our legal rights,” he said.

Like Feyler, other students feel that having a smoke-free campus could be unfair or overly restrictive. One of these people is Shaquile Adams, 21, a senior psychology major from Chester, Pa. Adams noted that it is not only students engaging in the use of tobacco products, but staff and faculty as well.

“There are a lot of students who come in using tobacco (products), let alone the students who start here,” Adams said. With the large amounts of people who use tobacco on campus, any sort of reprimand for those who are caught smoking would be unpopular for a variety of reasons.

There are also those who engage in tobacco use because of stress, particularly the form of stress uniquely attributed to the campus of a military school: post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“We do have a lot of students who use tobacco to cope with PTSD and stress,” Adams argued,

However, according to the National Institutes of Health, there is a link between heavy smoking and PTSD. “Several studies have linked post traumatic stress disorder with heavy smoking,” says the National Institutes of Health.

However, to force anyone on campus to give up tobacco is not right, according to Brendan Demers, 20, a mechanical engineering major from Pembroke, N.H. “People smoke, you’re not going to stop anyone from doing it.”

According to Adams, to enforce this policy the campus will have to look at ways such as using campus security or even having specific areas for people to engage in their tobacco habit

If the policy is approved it would have to be installed over a period of time, he said. “It would be hard because not many people could just quit.”

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