Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ready or not, University ban of on-campus tobacco use approaches

By Brian Bevilacqua

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The act of lighting up a cigarette or using tobacco on campus will soon be snuffed.

Effective July 1, a University of Massachusetts policy will ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco as well as electronic cigarettes. Smoking inside personal vehicles on campus will also be forbidden, even if the vehicle’s windows are closed. Currently, smoking is allowed anywhere on campus so long as it is done 20 feet away from any building.

The UMass community was recently reminded of the policy change via an email sent two weeks ago by Susan Pearson, associate chancellor and member of the Tobacco-Free Policy Implementation Committee. The email states that UMass “joins more than 700 colleges and universities around the country that have taken this step in order to protect the health of members of the campus community.”

The ban was passed April 7, 2011, by members of the Faculty Senate following a recommendation by the University Health Council, spearheaded by UMass microbiology professor Wilmore Webley. The Senate voted 14-7 in favor of the ban after several students – both smokers and non-smokers – spoke out against the policy change.

“Since 1984, there have been probably about 10 surgeon general reports that have come out talking about the ill effects of tobacco smoke, and for all of those bans they have consistently said that second-hand smoke is dangerous to health,” Webley said. Webley teaches the popular general education “Biology of Cancer and Aids” course.

Many students still have reservations about the change, such as freshman philosophy major Nick Vitulli.

“When I first heard about (the tobacco ban) I thought they were joking because it seems pretty widespread, the number of people who smoke on campus,” Vitulli said. “I do not think it should be an issue of whether it is good or bad for you, it is your right to smoke outside.”

Samuel Gless,  a freshman chemical engineering major, added: “I believe the University has the right idea.” However, he said he believes “there are a lot of other sides to it” and that “if (smokers) kept the 20 feet rule and put smokers poles around, people will follow that.”

Some have also expressed concerns about workers who maintain the University.

“I think the worst thing about the ban is the effect it is going to have on the DC workers,” said Cameron Stinemack, a freshman psychology major. “I see them out there every day having a cigarette on their break and I think they deserve that. I feel like they work long hours and it is not right to take that away from them.”

Webley, however, said “there is no right that is being violated. We’re not saying that people can’t smoke. All we’re saying is that you’re not allowed to smoke on this campus.” He added that the policy “doesn’t force you” to quit smoking.

Many University officials remain confident that the campus will benefit from the move.

Student Government Association President Akshay Kapoor spoke in favor of the policy change.

“I am overall in favor of the change,” Kapoor said. “In everything we do, the primary concern is safety and health and that’s why it was adopted. It is a very progressive approach and a real good thing for the campus.”

Kapoor went on to explain that he is in support of the ban because “we all share the air quality, and no one follows the 20 foot rule,” adding that “the entire state is moving in this direction and we are just following the trend.” He cited Hadley’s Hampshire Mall going smoke-free last year as an example.

According to Kapoor, the changes on campus will not be directly enforced on students, but rather the school will look to create a “culture shift” on campus that will eventually lead to students frowning upon smoking on campus and comply with the changes voluntarily. The policy change is to be put into effect by the Tobacco-Free Policy Implementation Committee.

According to Chris Pearson, a graduate student and member of the committee, discussions on how similar policies are implemented at other schools as well as the feasibility of certain methods, will be discussed over the course of several meetings. The committee will not be in charge of policy enforcement, rather “enforcement of the policy will be the responsibility of immediate supervisors and ultimately University Human Resources; for students, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs,” according to the official policy.

The policy, which will mostly be enforced on a voluntary basis, also states that enforcement will also “rely on the cooperation of all contractors, faculty, staff, and students not only to comply with the policy, but to encourage others to comply.”

“The policy was adopted because tobacco use has such well-established and severe deleterious effects on the health of our students, faculty and staff that we believe it would be irresponsible to continue permitting its use anywhere on campus,” Pearson said in an interview.

University Health Services will be offering assistance and resources to students, faculty and staff who will be attempting to quit their tobacco use. Whether the student body will be able or willing to voluntarily stop its tobacco use will be seen when students return next school year.

Brian Bevilacqua can be reached at [email protected]



12 Responses to “Ready or not, University ban of on-campus tobacco use approaches”

  1. alum on March 4th, 2013 10:52 am

    Welcome to another edition of the Nanny State.


  2. Z on March 4th, 2013 3:03 pm

    It is so sad that for all of the data and recommendations by the Surgeon General’s office that smoking is a health risk, instead of making it illegal or shutting down the tobacco companies, [state] governments are instead putting the hardship upon those who have become addicted to the product. You’ll notice that Federal govt has not stepped into the tobacco mess at all, with the exception of banning flavored tobacco products (not including menthol) which are primarily manufactures outside of the US. (Menthol however, is manufactured primarily by US tobacco companies)

    The university has not put forward any plan for how it will help current smokers to quit. All of the notifications regarding the ban state that they will offer assistance, but no details have yet emerged. Given that the ban begins in only a few months, this indicates that the university has little real comprehension of either the stress and difficulty involved with quitting this drug addiction, or the number of university staff and faculty who do in fact smoke. The expectation seems to be that on July 1, 2013, everyone will just have to stop.

    Also disconcerting is that fact the university approached this issue with a ban, rather than first attempting to create an information distribution program about smoking cessation services in conjunction with the creation and enforcement of designated smoking areas throughout the campus. It seems that the Faculty Senate who’s bylaws do NOT grant them the power to instate university policy, by the way) of twenty-one people has decided that they will dictate what the rights of several thousand other people, without their input.



  3. UMass Student on March 4th, 2013 3:47 pm

    I just can’t wait to watch a bunch of over privileged kids get upset about it. I hope they try to protest or something. It would be so fun to watch.


  4. Kat on March 4th, 2013 5:57 pm

    it will deter people from smoking but for the wrong reasons. People who smoke aren’t going to suddenly say ‘well i can’t smoke here so i might as well not smoke!’ they’re just going to walk right across the street to college pizza, etc. and light up instead. except this will only be cumbersome to students during the winter months. This campus is so big that I really doubt the second-hand smoke is having such a large effect considering people are smoking OUTSIDE in a windy area; hardly the same effect as a mother or father smoking inside their own house with small children.

    there’s so many rules and regulations on the ‘health and well-being’ of the people in states like Massachusetts, we need to realize that the government should not be allowed to so intimately force themselves into our private lives. I think it’s great that UMass will help smokers quit, but like the person before me said…welcome to the nanny state.

    “He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither” -Ben Franklin
    And by the way, I’m not a smoker


  5. JK on March 4th, 2013 5:57 pm

    Z said, “The university has not put forward any plan for how it will help current smokers to quit. All of the notifications regarding the ban state that they will offer assistance, but no details have yet emerged.”

    This is not true.

    See all the services that UHS is offering to help students and staff quit smoking:


  6. Kärin Radock on March 5th, 2013 11:26 am

    I am a news editor for Framingham State University’s independent weekly student newspaper The Gatepost. It’s looking like a similar tobacco-free campus policy will be in place at FSU starting next fall. The Gatepost has published several articles about the proposed ban, and I’m sure there will be more forums and committee meetings concerning the matter to be covered in the future!

    I think your article was well-written and informative.


  7. Bill Poli on March 8th, 2013 11:28 pm

    I can’t wait. It should be fun to watch


  8. Mike on March 24th, 2013 2:50 pm

    More ridiculousness. I can understand not allowing it within a certain distance of the buildings, but in private vehicles or open air… As was said, welcome to the NANNY STATE.



  9. Dr Watson on March 25th, 2013 11:03 pm

    What argument does the university have against e-cigarettes and dip, which effect nobody else?


  10. Jim on March 27th, 2013 2:52 pm

    Glad to see this lively exchange.

    All taxpayers, smokers and non, bear the brunt of the enormous cost of smoking related healthcare spending – 96 billion $ per year. And of the 443,000 people who die each year due to smoking related diseases, 50,000 are caused by second hand smoke exposure.

    Nanny state or not, trying to address the many problems of smoking seems more than reasonable.

    Lots of information available on this at –


  11. Truth on March 30th, 2013 1:31 pm

    Jim, I believe the healthcare related costs you cite fall short of the whole story. While they nicely fit the story to support the “Nanny state” they do not show the whole picture of cost to the public.

    Why? Simple answer…smokers die some 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, according to the CDC, and those premature deaths provide a savings to Medicare, Social Security, private pensions and other programs. Ghoulish? Perhaps, but more of a real and true picture to factor that in.

    Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi studied the net costs of smoking-related spending and savings and found that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, the country reaps a net cost savings of 32 cents.

    Education and support is the answer, not “Nanny state” rules, policies and legislation. Of course that might actually work, which would be a problem because then the $25 billion annually generated by cigarette taxes would have to be replaced, plus the added cost of health care for those living longer. No politician wants to tackle that…better to just make some more rules to make it look like they’re doing something when in fact they’re not, even if it violates a few rights.


  12. Mike on April 1st, 2013 6:13 pm

    Smoking is bad for you, and I would have no problem with medicare/medicaid dropping those who started smoking after “X” date and henceforth.


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