UC student

UC student taking a smoke break.

As of May 1, the University of Cincinnati is a tobacco-free campus. The consequences of the ban, however, are still unclear. Students caught smoking on campus will be punished “under the student code of conduct” according to a statement from the university.

When asked about more specific consequences, Dean of Students Juan Guardia said that it was unclear to him how it would be enforced.

The two main methods of punishment discussed have been fines and suspensions. However, there are “no plans to fine or suspend students” at this time, according to an email obtained by The News Record from Tobacco Free UC to a former student.

“At this point, our goal is to educate and inform the university about the new policy and direct them to tobacco cessation resources, if interested,” reads the email. “We will continue to evaluate over time and adjust as necessary.”

While only 2 percent of the student population smokes on a daily basis, according to statistics provided by the Student Wellness Center, the university had 44,338 students enrolled in 2016-2017. Therefore, the ban still affects approximately 887 students who smoke cigarettes on a daily basis.

In addition, 0.4 percent daily use E-cigarettes, 0.4 percent use hookah, 0.1 percent smoke cigars, cigarillos, or clove cigarettes, and 1.5 percent use smokeless tobacco (dip), making up an additional 2.4 percent (1,064 students) for a grand total of 1951 students, or 4.4 percent of the student body, who use tobacco products daily.

Currently, the university has limited cessation programs. The university has a “Win by Quitting” program hosted by the UC Barrett Cancer Center. The program has been featured in a previous article in TNR. However, most students interviewed had never heard of the program, and the center is on the medical campus.

Not all students agree with the ban.

“It’s a right that people have that you shouldn’t take away from them,” said first-year astrophysics student Maurice Reed. “I don’t smoke personally, so it doesn’t affect me, but I don’t agree with it.”

Some students are fine with the restriction, however.

“It feels like a step towards creating a healthier campus,” said third-year diatetics student Elora Keaffler. “I’m an ex-smoker myself. Sure, it limits our freedoms, but I’m okay with it.”

Making campus tobacco-free might have unintended consequences for service staff, said professor-educator of English Michael Hennessey.

“That's a decision for individuals to make, and I'm worried about some criticisms I've heard expressed about how the program will affect community members outside of faculty and the student body,” said Hennessey.

“[This includes] maintenance staff, food service workers, etc. who get timed breaks, and who'd need to, if I understand correctly, get all the way off of campus to have a smoke, then get all the way back. I've also heard that they're not allowed to smoke in their cars either. So, while I think it's a smart idea to offer resources to encourage UC community members to quit smoking, and agree that it has wide benefits for all of us on campus, I do worry about it being somewhat classist in its enforcement and implications.”