In 2008, Former President of USF Stephen Privett, S.J. issued a memo to the staff, announcing that the University intended to become a smoke-free campus. The memo briefly described a plan where smoking would be confined to two designated areas, which would be eliminated within the following two years. “The creation of a smoke-free environment at this point is the socially responsible course of action based on extensive and rigorous research findings,” the memo read.
In the fall of 2008, the smoking on campus was limited to two areas: outside the Rossi Wing on Lone Mountain and the Smoking Garden on main campus located across War Memorial Gym. Eight years later, with this arrangement still in place, USF has not accomplished its goal of becoming a smoke-free campus.
The Office of Risk Management, led by Risk Services Manager Melissa Diaz, has finally begun the process of turning USF into a smoke free campus by 2017. “The University’s core mission is to promote learning for our community. This can only accomplished by creating a healthy and safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” says Diaz. She plans to replace the two current smoking areas with one, which will be located by the main gate of the University at the end of Welch Field facing Gleeson Library. The movement will take place during Thanksgiving break. Beginning 2017, smoking will be completely banned throughout campus.
The location for the temporary smoking area was chosen because it is far away from most buildings on campus. The facilities department has received complaints from students in Phelan who live in a room facing the Smoking Garden, parents of the aforementioned students and the staff of Campus Ministry, whose office is also facing the Smoking Garden. “You can’t close the window because there’s no air conditioning, no air circulation and it’ll be too warm and stifling in there; if you leave the window open, the smoke wafts straight up,” says Craig Petersen, director of facilities management.
Ali Balfantz, office manager of University Ministry says that students smoke a little outside the garden, right outside the windows of the office. “We don’t really want guests coming in and the first thing they smell is cigarette smoke,” she says. Balfantz, and several other University Ministry staff members, have allergies and are bothered by the smoke.
Facilities staff has also been affected by the smoking policy on campus, as cigarette butts are littered throughout campus, even outside the designated smoking areas. Every morning at 7 a.m., a facilities staff member spends an hour picking up cigarette butts.“There are more [cigarette butts] on the ground than in the ashtray,” Petersen joked while walking through the smoking garden.
USF third year Nicolas Landeros is a smoker and supports the university’s decision to limit smoking to just a few areas on campus, but says smokers will smoke regardless of a strict no smoking policy campus-wide. “I feel like the goal is set from a good mind set, but doesn’t really do much to limit smoking around USF. If people wanna smoke, they’re gonna do it anyways,” says Landeros.
The smoking policy will mostly be enforced by the community, rather than public safety. It will be the responsibility of the staff, students and faculty to kindly inform smokers of our policy regarding smoking. “By reducing the designated smoking areas from two locations to one, and moving the smoking area on campus, we plan to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke. This is the final step before USF moves to a completely smoke-free campus in the near future,” says Diaz.
Photo Credit: Racquel Gonzales/ Foghorn