Area Schools Ban Smoking
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 03:11
Though many of Georgetown’s peer institutions are becoming smoke and tobacco free, the university currently has no plans to implement a similar ban.
American University made an announcement Nov. 5 that it will enact a campus-wide smoking ban in 2013. According to an Oct. 5 American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation newsletter, it joins more than 600 college campuses nationwide.
In addition, The George Washington University will soon announce a smoke-free policy effective beginning in the 2013 school year Nov. 15, according to the GW Hatchet.
In a memorandum to the AU campus community, University President Neil Kerwin cited health reasons as the driving force behind the new policy.
“The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that tobacco use in any form, active or passive, is a significant health hazard,” Kerwin said. “There is no safe level of exposure.”
But Maria Riquezes, a sophomore at American, was critical of the impending ban.
“I have heard people say that this move is a logical next step to earn some sort of environmental award,” Riquezes said. “I personally know that it’s going to be very hard for some students to deal with. I think college is an adult environment, and the ban somehow makes it seem childish.”
Though the Georgetown University Medical Center is smoke-free, the university does not have plans to ban smoking on the rest of campus, according to Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh.
GUMC became smoke free Jan. 2011, according to an email sent Jan. 3 from Executive Dean of the School of Medicine Howard Federoff to Medical Center staff. Federoff cited the university’s Jesuit values as the basis for the ban.
“Our smoke-free policy helps us … care for the whole person and community,” he wrote.
On the main campus, smoking is currently prohibited in all indoor locations and within 25 feet of building entrances and windows, as required by D.C. law.
Some students, however, were in support of creating a smoke-free environment on campus.
“I hate having to walk by all of the smokers outside of [Lauinger Library] every day,” Colin Sawyer (SFS ’16) said. “I think that Georgetown should implement a smoke-free policy … [so] college students are discouraged from starting or continuing to smoke. It would protect the health of students from both first- and secondhand smoke while making the campus much cleaner.”
Other students felt the university should not regulate smoking on campus.
“I don’t think the university should implement a totally smoke-free policy,” Alex Barnes (SFS ’16) said. “It would be very inconvenient for smokers to have to walk off campus to smoke several times a day. I think there are better ways of dealing with the problem that protect clean air for non-smokers while minimizing the restrictions on smokers.”
Students on both sides of the issue added that smoking does not seem to be a priority for the university, nor is it a major issue on campus.
“Most of the roundtables and other discussions have been about food [and] technology, which I think are more important to a larger section of the student body and the school,” Andrew Haddad (SFS ’15) said. “I don’t think there is a huge smoking community at Georgetown, though people certainly still do it.”