Are smoking bans working at Marshall and WVU?

Sep 5, 2013

Tobacco Free Campus Signs adorn doors all over campus.

With smoking bans at both of the state’s largest higher education institutions in full effect since July 1st, it’s now that students are back on both campuses that the real test begins.

Since July 1st Marshall’s campuses have observed a tobacco ban, banning students, professors and staff from smoking anywhere on campus. But only since the beginning of last week have students inundated the main campus in Huntington after the start of the fall semester. Marshall University student Will Vance said he’s just had to change his routine.

“During the day I guess out of courtesy I walk out to the perimeter of the school, you know there going from having three people outside a building to having a perimeter of people around the school smoking, I don’t really think that helps the schools image,” Vance said.

Amy Saunders is director of student health on campus. She said people smoking on the public sidewalks around campus isn’t new, but it’s not nearly the problem some might think.

“I don’t really even think it’s been that hard for us, it seems like it’s been a really good thing, but what you have happen is when you change the environment, you have the culture and the norm start to change and the culture isn’t really supportive of that behavior and so hopefully what we’ll see down the road is more people will adapt to the healthy behavior.,” Saunders said.

Saunders said they don’t want to have to start citing students or add the rule to the student code of conduct. Instead, she says university officials feel like if it’s given time things will gradually change on campus, as they already are.

Vance said he’s not sure how things will work on campus in the coming months. He says students might become more tempted to smoke near the buildings instead of outside of campus as fall changes to winter.

“Especially when it starts getting cold, people aren’t going to want to walk all the way out there, people are just going to smoke out front, there’s not much the school can do about it right now and I hope that they don’t,” Vance said.

Saunders said she hopes the colder months have the opposite effect.

“We don’t want to go that route to have to do citations or anything, that will be difficult to do, our hope is that we’ll see a lot of people that will want to quit when that times comes, is that addiction going to be so strong that it will compel you to go out there on the sidewalk? And for some people, yes unfortunately it will, but for some people that might be a game changer for them, where they say I want to change this behavior,” Saunders said.

Marshall’s student health department is offering smoking cessation classes throughout the year to help those that decide the new ban is the time to change things.