Going Smoke-Free: Students Need Support in Changing Times

 

On April 22, UCLA implemented a tobacco ban on its campus — the first of 10 UC campuses to become smoke-free by January 2014. On April 23, all UCSD students received an email about our campus’ decision to implement the UC-wide smoke-free campus policy on Sept. 1, 2013.

The ban marks a dramatic shift from our current policy, which allows smoking in parking lots and campus sidewalks. The new policy forbids all students, staff and faculty from smoking on campus — a blow to both on-campus residents who smoke regularly and the General Store. Perhaps most important in moving forward (since the ban now has a set start date) is that UCSD administrators recognize the effects that the implementation of this policy will have on students and act responsibly to help alleviate concerns.

While we agree that a smoking ban will make for a better environment, air quality and general health for the majority of nonsmoking students, faculty and staff, UCSD administrators should not forget about the nine percent of undergraduate students who do smoke. While Student Health Services says it has both counseling and aids available to student smokers, a ban like this demands greater access to cessation aids and programs and stronger communication and marketing to students. SHS will need to provide more counseling and better access to cessation treatments, and UC SHIP needs to actually support these costs. UCSD’s health care services needs to address the fact that if students are to quit cold turkey, they will need the necessary resources to help them in the process. 

And let’s not let UCSD administrators forget about what the ban will do to the Co-ops, which have already had their fair share of financial hardships. Just this fall quarter, it came to light that the Co-ops had considerable budget issues and debt as A.S. Council and the Graduate Student Association deliberated on whether to vote for their recertification. Because the smoke-free policy also prohibits the sale of any tobacco products by businesses in any UC-owned or occupied buildings, the Co-ops will have a huge gap in their finances. General Store Co-Manager Josh Kenchel estimates that the General Store earns $60,000 — more than half of its annual profit revenue — from the sale of tobacco products alone.

A.S. Council Associate Vice President of Environmental and Social Justice Affairs Vanessa Garcia and Associate Vice Chancellor of Health, Recreation and Well-being Karen Calfas have both reached out to the Co-ops to discuss possible methods to gain university assistance. Council held a meeting to discuss resolutions regarding the ban’s effect on students last night. But while discussion is good, this problem calls for concrete plans and action. UCSD administrators need to recognize a responsibility to help the Co-ops create a plan for the General Store to transition to a financially stable state without the sale of tobacco by September. Without the university’s help, UCSD students may lose more than just their right to smoke on campus next school year.

UCSD administrators seem excited about the prospect of a smoke-free, healthy campus environment but this excitement is no reason to forget about the many students who will be affected by the ban most.