The standing regulation allowing students and staff of Miami University to smoke 25 feet outside of any building went up in smoke at the university senate meeting Monday.
Oxford, Hamilton, and Middletown campuses and any property owned by Miami will soon be smoke free.
As stated in Appendix E of the senate’s new resolution, smoking will continue to be prohibited inside any building and in any vehicles owned, operated, or leased by Miami, and the sale or distribution of tobacco products is still prohibited in university facilities.
The most noticeable change, though, will only allow smoking on any public street or a public street’s sidewalks. Due to the fact that there are no public streets on the Middletown campus, they will be considered an entirely smoke-free campus.
Jay Barden, senior building and grounds manager at Miami and the chair of the Smoking Policy Ad Hoc Committee, explained that the committee felt they had to be consistent across the board by not including any smoking areas on the campus.
When the question of whether Miami’s campus in Luxembourg would be effected, Barden couldn’t provide an answer.
“I’m not going to get into foreign policy,” Barden said.
To make sure all individuals are aware of the new smoke-free campus policy, signs will be posted in visible locations.
The smoke-free campus provision will go into effect 12 months after approval from the president of the board of trustees, with the next scheduled meeting being April 27. The 12 months will be used mainly as a time to inform current residents of Miami of the change.
Barden expressed that because incoming first-year students will have made the conscious decision to attend Miami as a smoke-free campus, the university’s focus during the 12 months won’t be toward educating any new members of the community on the policy.
“(Incoming first-years) will know very clearly that we are a no smoking campus – we’re more concerned with people already here knowing that we’re changing the game,” Barden said.
Richard Momeyer, a philosophy professor and member of university senate, had a slightly different opinion on the issue, saying that it would be hard to change the set behaviors of people on campus.
Barden simply defended the statement by saying that out of the 6,157 responses the committee received in a smoking survey, 62 percent said they were bothered by second-hand smoke.
One of the biggest concerns raised during the meetings was a section of the policy called the “hospitality exception,” which allowed “hotel-like” areas – such as the Marcum Conference Center where donors to the university tend to stay – to have a designated smoking area still 25 feet away from the building.
Irene Pierce, an administrative assistant to the school of business, voiced concern for the employees of Miami.
“If you’re a donor and giving to the university, we are servicing you and giving you a place to smoke, but employees are giving of their time – they too should have a place to smoke,” Pierce said.
Douglas Haynes, a sophomore at Miami and president pro tempore of Associated Student Government (ASG), explained that he thought this exception was unfair for not only the staff members of Miami but for the students also.
“The students pay a lot of money to stay in a dorm that we now have to stay and live in for two years – how can they not smoke when people who pay far less stay in Marcum Center?” Haynes said.
In the end, due to the disagreement with the hospitality exception, that part of the proposed smoking policy was removed.
Once that was settled, staff members and students started agreeing that the smoke-free policy could be effective for the campus.
“As I look back on my time in academia, I started in a time when faculty and students smoked in class,” said William Snavely, the associate dean and professor in the Farmer School of Business.
Snavely also quoted a professor in the business building who smokes with whom he previously discussed the smoke-free policy.
“(A business faculty member said), ‘You know, I’m OK with it. If I’m that desperate, I’ll go to the street. My smoking went down to about half when they stopped me smoking in office and this may get me to stop,'” Snavely said.
Snavely said that despite university response, the policy could last.
“(After) each step, there has been those who have been angry about it, but we’ve survived,” he said.
Melonia Bennett, a junior at Miami and ASG’s secretary of academic affairs, said the policy would benefit the university as a whole.
“I was under the impression, the reason why we went through such a thorough examination (was that) we wanted to be more proactive,” Bennett said. “We are the first to go nonsmoking. All of the other universities have to meet our standards rather than (Miami) having to meet theirs.”
By the end of Barden’s presentation, with the hospitality exception removed, the smoke-free policy passed with 29 votes in favor, four votes in opposition, and two abstentions. “(Miami will be) a better place to work, to live, and to study at as a result of this policy,” Barden said. “Are we going to stop (smoking)? I don’t think so, but it will be better to be (at Miami) than before the law was in effect.”