Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Faculty Senate passes campus tobacco ban

By William Perkins

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Members of the University of Massachusetts Faculty Senate yesterday passed a proposition that aims to ban the use of all tobacco products on campus beginning in 2013.

The Senate approved of the proposal in a 14-7 vote, after several students spoke against it and some faculty members spoke in favor of it.

The policy – which won’t go into effect until July 1, 2013 – was brought forward to the Senate by the University Health Council. It calls for the prohibition of all tobacco products on University property. In addition, it bars tobacco use in any vehicles on school property, and also prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes.

Sen. Tobias Baskin, a professor of biology who serves as the chairman of the Health Council, said at the onset of discussions on the matter at yesterday’s meeting that statistics show tobacco use is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year, and that similar propositions have worked at many colleges across the country.

“It is reliably estimated that in America last year tobacco use killed more than 400,000 people,” Baskin said, adding that use of such products can make people susceptible to diseases and can lead to economic hardships.

Baskin also said studies show that students enrolled at tobacco-free universities are less likely to become smokers.

There’s enough history with tobacco-free campuses that there [is] actually data,” he said. The proposal cites the Universities of Florida, Oregon and Michigan, as well as the UMass Medical School in Worcester as campuses with similar tobacco-free policies.

Additionally, Baskin noted thatthe purpose of the policy is educational, not punitive.”

Baskin added later on during the discussions that the new policy will mostly be enforced on a voluntary basis. He likened it to when signs went up at the UMass Recreation Center instructing students not to dispose of gum in drinking fountains – which, he said, significantly decreased the practice.

“Mostly, people will comply voluntarily,” Baskin said, adding that it’s his understanding that 95 percent of people on campuses already with a tobacco-free policy voluntarily comply with regulations.

In addition to Baskin, Sen. Richard Bogartz, a professor of psychology, also spoke in favor of the ban. He said that he often feels “attacked” by cigarette smoke on campus, and that he thinks a state law that requires smokers to be at least 20 feet away from a building is often violated.

And Wilmore Webley, a professor of biology who has been spearheading many of the efforts behind the proposal, noted during the meeting that it’s hard to enforce rules that require smokers to be a certain distance from a structure. He also said that second-hand smoke affects many in the country.

Second-hand smoke kills more Americans in any year than guns,” Webley said.

He added that the he feels a tobacco-free policy is “preserving everyone’s right,” noting that it doesn’t necessarily force smokers to quit because they can continue to smoke off-campus.

However, many students expressed their opposition to the proposal during the meeting, noting that it would be unrealistic to have all smokers go off-campus to smoke, and that they feel the policy infringes upon their rights.

Nathan Lamb, a political science major who also serves as a senator in the Student Government Association, said he feels parts of the policy entrench on individuals’ rights. He said that people should be allowed to smoke in their own cars when on campus – because it’s not affecting anyone else. He added that rather than issuing an ultimatum of sorts, the University should plan to work with students on such an initiative.

Ben Taylor, who is also a political science major, said that he doesn’t feel that instituting a prohibition policy will be very effective.

We have found as a country that prohibition doesn’t work,” Taylor said, noting that it didn’t work with alcohol and that he doesn’t think it works with marijuana.

Taylor added that he doesn’t think the resolution will be enforceable. He also said that the policy would be unfair for UMass employees – who, like all students and guests on campus, would not be permitted to smoke on University property.

George Williams – a freshman English major who said he grew up under tough circumstances and smoked in middle school, but no longer smokes – told Senate members that sometimes when he was younger cigarettes were the only thing that got him through the day.

The only thing that really kept me from killing myself was cigarettes,” said Williams, who noted that he is not in that condition anymore. “I know I really should have done something else, but I didn’t have the option.”

You’re [going to] have deaths” with the policy, Williams added.

Other students – some of whom brought protest signs to the meeting – noted that such a policy could affect the University’s enrollment, that it oversteps regulatory lines and that it will force more people to smoke in hiding. Some students also vocally expressed their disapproval of some statements that were made during the meeting.

Sen. Norman Sims, a professor of journalism, brought forward a motion to have the Senate’s Program and Budget Council look at the proposal before going forward. That motion ultimately failed.

Besides gaining the approval of the Health Council, the proposition also got the go-ahead from the UMass Campus Leadership Council – which is composed of members of the administration – before being approved yesterday.

Additionally, the approved smoking ban proposal calls for the creation of a Tobacco-Free Campus Committee, which will be made up of members from the student and faculty body and will be charged with carrying out most of the implementation of the policy.

Secretary of the Senate Ernie May, who also served on the Health Council, said that members will be willing to meet with representatives from the Student Government Association to go over any concerns.

Faculty Senate Presiding Officer W. Brian O’Connor also noted that there are still two years until the policy goes into effect – which, he said, will allow for most people to have their say in the matter.

We’ve got two years to work on this,” he said. “I’m convinced everyone will have their say.”

William Perkins can be reached at [email protected]



35 Responses to “UMass Faculty Senate passes campus tobacco ban”

  1. Michelle on April 8th, 2011 5:04 am

    I agree with this action as there would be a better place in campuses if there will be no tobacco smoking. Anyway there are other places where you can smoke if you want that.

  2. Bob on April 8th, 2011 8:18 am

    This just makes me laugh. It is so typical of UMass, which is obsessed with micromanaging peoples’ personal lives. Of course, when it comes to managing the things that matter, like budgets and student advising, the school falls way behind. I’m so happy that I’ve graduated from UMass and am living far, far away. What a petty Faculty Senate, indeed.

  3. Westriver on April 8th, 2011 8:51 am

    “Know why I pulled you over?”
    “No sir”
    “I saw you smoking and driving – that’s against the law and I’ll need to cite you”
    “But officer, it’s pot not tobacco”
    “Oh, OK then – have a nice day”
    “Hey you there – I need to cite you for e-cigarette use”
    “But it’s a pencil I’m chewing on”
    “Well it looks like an e-cigarette and by your mannerisms it looks like you’re vaping- I’m going to cite you anyways because you are enjoying it way too much”
    “Young man, are you smoking?”
    “No, it’s cold out, that’s my breath”
    “I think you were smoking – give me your backpack I’ll need to search it”
    “You have no right”
    “Well, yes I do”

  4. Mike on April 8th, 2011 9:28 am

    The fact that they want to ban all tobacco products, dip and chew included, even in private vehicles, shows that they are not really concerned with second hand smoke. A prohibition on smoking in buildings is one thing, but find me evidence that open air second hand cigarette smoke is problematic… you can’t. Like all politicians these “faculty senate” members are liars, and are completely willing to distort the truth to give themselves more power, and continue to make decisions for other adults, because they think they know better.

    I look forward to seeing nobody abide by this unenforceable ban.

  5. BS Ultivan on April 8th, 2011 9:31 am

    We should have a smoke in to protest.Maybe we’ll have it in Morrill (III) room 106.

  6. Dee on April 8th, 2011 9:31 am

    Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln

  7. Westriver on April 8th, 2011 9:40 am

    Michelle, the UMASS campus is over 1,400 acres – where are those other places you can smoke if you want to?

    I’m just curious when the faculty senate will ban cars and the busses – they produce smoke – smoke is smoke, right? Right?

  8. JH on April 8th, 2011 9:46 am

    You feel “attacked” by cigarette smoke???? Wake up buddy, that’s absurd. You live a happy and comfortable life.

    There are people being kicked out of their homes all around us, there are people in Japan getting blasted by radiation, and you can think about is catching the scent of smoke on the air for 1 second each day as you walk around?

    This zero-tolerance stuff is pure totalitarian mentality. Humans are not meant to live like zoo animals.

  9. Heidi on April 8th, 2011 10:23 am

    Tobacco products are one thing, but why e-cigarettes? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t they just emit water vapor and aren’t they tobacco-free?

  10. EJ Clairmont on April 8th, 2011 10:32 am

    As an ex-smoker, this is good. Smoking costs everyone, not just the person who chooses to do it. Being at a higher risk of a plethora of health issues raises everyone’s cost of insurance. People have developed heart disease and lung cancer as early as their 20s from smoking. It’s just moronic to allow such a plebeian exercise of ignorance as smoking in a supposed institution of higher learning. We should all know better. I’m sure people will find places to smoke and get around the ban, but other people will find the cost too high and attempt to quit. Some of these people might actually quit successfully. If only a few students quit as a result of this ban, then it is worth it.

  11. Dan on April 8th, 2011 10:43 am

    No matter how you put it if you support it or not it was a matter of time before this was going to happen. Also it is two years away and many of us who are outraged by this will not be effected by it.

  12. buttercup on April 8th, 2011 1:57 pm

    How did electronic cigarettes, which contain NO TOBACCO and produce NO SMOKE get lumped into the ban? They produce a vapor that’s akin to the steam billowing off someone’s coffee cup. Hmm, come to think of it, that IS dangerous! You’d better ban coffee while you’re at it. Caffeine is ADDICTIVE and HAZARDOUS to health. Oh, and chocolate. Actually, all candy. Snack chips too. That stuff’ll kill you.

  13. .linkup on April 8th, 2011 3:58 pm

    All smokers should move west and deprive all the east coast states of cigarette tax money.Then we can have a civil war over smokers rights.

  14. Student X on April 8th, 2011 4:53 pm

    I guess that means the faculty senate will have to stay off campus because of the smoke billowing out of their asses… how ridiculous.

  15. westriver on April 8th, 2011 6:08 pm

    E-cigarettes are not tobacco products and may or may not contain a solution of nicotine. If one were to vape an e-cigarette on campus and could prove the ingredients in the e-cigarette did not contain nicotine – would there be any citation or reprimand?

    Since e-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco whatsoever, but MAY contain nicotine, I can only surmise that the use of nicotine suppression products like Nicorette will also be part of this ban.

    If you are not banning Nicorette you can’t ban e-cigarettes without being accused of discriminating social steering.

    All of this ban is social steering but the e-cigarette ban is very blatant. Is it not?

  16. Eyewitness on April 9th, 2011 6:26 am

    According to Sen. Tobias Baskin, even though the “legislation” specifically prohibits e-cigarettes, the actual rules of the ban will be determined as part of the implementation process. He indicated that “an exception” can be made to allow the e-cigs if those responsible for implementing the ban decide that is appropriate.

    In other words, the Faculty Senate appear to have passed a poorly-worded, overly strict ban, and now we all have to pay really close attention to the implementation process for the next couple of years if we think the e-cigs should be allowed. Nevermind tabling the ban until the next Senate meeting so that it could be re-worded, let’s put the honus on the community at large, many of whom will no longer be on campus when it finally goes into effect, to plead their case before whatever governing body winds up being responsible for implementing it.

    In general, I think the Faculty Senate does not care that the “public health” justification they claimed makes no sense in light of the fact that they also banned chewing tobacco, which does not produce any second hand effects. Neither do I think that they “accidentally” banned e-cigs along with the rest. I think that a small group of anti-smoking, anti-tobacco, anti-nicotine zealots got exactly what they wanted.

  17. ahem on April 9th, 2011 9:42 am

    westriver: please read the article. ” – would there be any citation or reprimand?” No, it will be self enforced.

  18. ac on April 9th, 2011 9:44 am

    In-force smoking areas. People have the right to smoke, and people have the right not to deal with smoke from tobacco on campus.

  19. westriver on April 9th, 2011 4:57 pm

    Ahem, I read the article, self enforced requirements are seldom left on their own – (remember when seat belt use was just strongly recommended and encouraged – then it was just the citation law for kids – then non-use could only be cited after a traffic stop for another reason – now in many places around the country it’s a first offense with fines and points.) This ban will wind it’s way to being enforced with citations and reprimands – all bans do – all laws do – all regulations do. It’s the natural course of government bodies if left to their own wiles. Regulations like this, on the surface, may seem so helpful – so healthy – so spring-fresh on the onset but they morph… They strip away Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It’s not written: Dept of Life, Dept of Liberty and the Dept of Happiness.

  20. John G. on April 10th, 2011 4:09 pm

    Oh, stop it with the apocalyptic whining already. A tobacco ban is going to “strip away Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”? Really? May I suggest finding a different way to pursue happiness – one less likely to give you lung cancer, for example?

    I’ve got news for you: Banning tobacco use doesn’t just “seem” healthy, it IS healthy. Smoking kills more people than terrorism. If anything here is going to strip away life, smoking is it.

  21. student on April 10th, 2011 4:16 pm

    While we are at it, let’s ban all fast food on campus (and soda machines): “Being overweight costs everyone, not just the person who chooses to be overweight. Being at a higher risk of a plethora of health issues raises everyone’s cost of insurance. People have developed heart disease and diabetes as early as their 20s from eating. It’s just moronic to allow such a plebeian exercise of ignorance as over-eating in a supposed institution of higher learning. We should all know better. I’m sure people will find places to eat and get around the ban, but other people will find the cost too high and attempt to quit. Some of these people might actually quit successfully. If only a few students quit as a result of this ban, then it is worth it.”

    Also, let’s ban cars. I often feel “attacked” by the exhaust fumes from other people’s cars.

  22. jacob Robinson-Sweet on April 11th, 2011 1:49 am

    Most students living on campus and attending school at umass are older then 18 years of age, meaning we have a legal right to smoke tobacco products if we want. Many of us also pay to live on campus, meaning we spend 99.9 percent of our time here. We are legally old enough to smoke and pay to reside here, so let us smoke here. Secondly, college is not elementary school, we are responsible for our own actions, if we chose to smoke (although it may be harmful to ourselves) it is our choice and right.

  23. westriver on April 12th, 2011 9:55 am

    ‘student’, so true, being overweight and the overweight are a scourge on society and should not be tolerated. There are studies that come to the conclusion that even associating with the obese will make you more prone to obesity (Harvard)

    Finally, once the known undeniable facts of obesity and second hand obesity has penetrated most of society, we’ll be able to tackle the obese on campus and ban them. They have no right to be obese and inflict their obesity on others.


  24. westriver on April 12th, 2011 10:04 am

    Yes John G, a smoking ban will strip away life liberty and the pursuit of happiness….would you also mock and accuse gays and lesbians who wanted to be open to stop their whining and being all apocalyptic and do it elsewhere – behind closed doors.
    Whereas smokers may be more prone to cancer and smoking should be banned you are also supporting the ideals that whereas gays may be more prone to aids the gay lifestyle should be shunned or at least closeted. Aren’t people supposed to have rights?

  25. Steve on April 12th, 2011 11:11 pm

    Tobacco use is an addiction. What is the Faculty Senate doing to reverse tobacco addiction besides preventing being “attacked” by smokers?

  26. Kevin Carifio on April 14th, 2011 2:19 am

    Can someone please explain to me UMass’s obsession with micromanaging student life? If you are going to make the choice to not smoke by the time your 18, no amount of babying by the administration is going to stop you. Massachusetts needs to stop the zealous application of victimless crime laws, governments job is to govern, not play mommy and daddy to a bunch of dumbass college students. Let them kill their lungs, it’s their life, not mine, and they have the right to do what they want with it as long as it doesn’t affect me.

  27. Electronic Cig enjoyer on April 20th, 2011 1:31 pm

    I can MAYBE understand tobacco – but E-Cigs are not tobacco, not smoke. How does this fall within the banning? I wonder the true intent when you include e-cigs into the equation.

  28. Truthiness on April 28th, 2011 10:36 pm

    I feel that there is a great deal of confusion in this audience. I do agree that non-smoked tobacco products do not produce airborne carcinogens, and that the support for the “tobacco/and other nicotine product ban”‘s cause is argued rather poorly. Perhaps some alumni/ae should start a hookah bar near by and play the capitalistic game. Speaking of which, where the hell is Phillip Morris, shouldn’t the old guy be up here paying for a student to sue someone over this socialist non-sense? And tobacco is a sacrament and a plant, it is your choice to use or abuse it. I think this calls for filtered ventilated smoking chambers my friends…

  29. Brian on May 2nd, 2011 3:27 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous. We have the right to smoke if we want, UMass should not be able to tell us any different. There are many more problems they should be working on, like the budget or even student housing (which is a terrible system by the way), why focus on smoking on campus? I am irate to find out about this.

  30. Free on November 14th, 2011 5:47 am

    Alcohol is also bad for one’s health and also has SERIOUS negative effects on one’s education. As far as I’m aware, smoking doesn’t interfere with one’s ability to study, complete assignments, and ultimately do well in their classes. Perhaps a ban on alcohol is more appropriate at USF considering that it takes most undergraduates at least 5 years to graduate. But alcohol bans aren’t as en vogue as smoking bans so I guess Judy isn’t interested in that.

  31. cispangle on December 8th, 2011 8:53 am

    I think each person should decide to smoke or not and it is really ridiculous to put some rules or interdict something.
    I am agree with Brian that there are really other problems more serious and more important that should be discussed and solved.

  32. Ryan on February 5th, 2012 11:11 pm

    [QUOTE=”EJ Clairmont April 8, 2011 at 10:32 am”]
    As an ex-smoker, this is good.

    You might try the point of view of a disinterested neutral 3rd party who is somewhat familiar with the founding principles of this country

    [QUOTE=”EJ Clairmont April 8, 2011 at 10:32 am”]
    Smoking costs everyone, not just the person who chooses to do it.

    I agree that people have a right not to breath second-hand smoke in amounts that physically affect them, and to some degree I agree that designated smoking areas are acceptable. However, designating smoking areas in Siberia is a form of punitive action against smokers, or an effective ban, and goes further than is necessary to protect the rights of non-smokers.

    [QUOTE=”EJ Clairmont April 8, 2011 at 10:32 am”]
    Being at a higher risk of a plethora of health issues raises everyone’s cost of insurance. People have developed heart disease and lung cancer as early as their 20s from smoking. It’s just moronic to allow such a plebeian exercise of ignorance as smoking in a supposed institution of higher learning. We should all know better.

    I’m sure people will find places to smoke and get around the ban, but other people will find the cost too high and attempt to quit. Some of these people might actually quit successfully. If only a few students quit as a result of this ban, then it is worth it.

    Your point is that freedom affects your bottom line? Thank President Obama et al for nationalizing our medical system. What article of the Constitution authorizes the Federal government to run health care anyway? But that’s another topic. But the point is, you can’t say “free healthcare for everyone” and then justify running everyone’s lives in the name of health. I thought college kids were against totalitarianism. But there you are at the bottom in support of absurd smoking areas not because they affect other people’s right to avoid second-hand smoke, but because you think they should quit, because the mere sight of a smoker might get all the other adults of voting age you attend school with to smoke.

    So, I think you should ask yourself again what the justification is for telling adults they cannot smoke in places that do not harm anyone else?

    And what do electronics have to do with smoking? They are not smoking, and so should not be subject to the ban. If it’s distracting to smoke in class, then I understand a policy against them in the classroom. But you can’t tell someone who merely looks like they are smoking to be placed under a broad smoking ban. It’s funny people with an agenda will redefine what smoking is to justify it.

  33. 20feetaway on October 2nd, 2012 11:15 am

    Smokers were given a chance by asking them to do their business 20 feet away from the building. Every day I walk in my building through a cloud of smoke and it isn’t fair to me or the other nonsmokers. 20 feet away means 20 feet away. Not fair to you? Not fair to me. We gave you a chance.

  34. Laticia Ailshire on April 25th, 2013 7:58 am

    In that case, I’d suggest getting the e-juice with 0% nicotine. Then, no you won’t. :+)

  35. Patria Senemounnarat on April 25th, 2013 10:11 am

    I took a SouthWest flight yesterday, Baltimore to Buffalo. I was in the fornt seat so the stewardess was right there. After a beer, I pulled out my e-cig and asked the stewardess if these were allowed. She did not know what it was, and asked me to show her what it was/did. I took a drag and puffed out the vapor. I could tell that this made several passengers nervous. The stewardess said “well, I think we banned those from flights”…I told her that I wouldn’t use it then, but that it would be helpful if this was clearly stated one way or another. I was also concerned with tripping the smoke detector so I did not use it in the bathroom. Will the vapor trigger a smoke detector? Those in the airlines are VERY SENSITVE units based upon a little “accident” I had back when they first banned smoking! I tried to get one hit and put the smoke out and it fired off the smoke alarm and I was almost arrested!!!

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