Kerwin: AU to go tobacco-free in August 2013

Kerwin: AU to go tobacco-free in August 2013
Sarah Wisniewski, a first year graduate student in the School of Public Affairs, takes a smoke break on campus. President Neil Kerwin announced Nov. 5 in a University-wide memo that AU would go smoke- and tobacco-free by Aug. 1, 2013.

AU will ban all smoking and tobacco on campus by Aug. 1, 2013, President Neil Kerwin announced in a University-wide memo sent to the campus community Nov. 5.

This timeline gives smokers a “transition period” and provides AU with time to figure out the details of this policy, the memo said.

Kayla Haran, a junior in the School of International Service, said the ban may be “a blessing in disguise” by helping her quit smoking.

Katy Edwards, an adjunct professor who teaches “Drugs and Behavior” in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she believes withdrawal symptoms will detract from students’ ability to study.

“Yes, I would say that difficultly concentrating, irritability, restlessness and anxiety could all negatively impact students academic performance,” she said in an email.

Phoebe Bradford, a junior in the School of Communication, said reducing the amount she smokes will be easier because not as many people will be smoking on campus, which will lessen the attractiveness of smoking for her.

“There’s just so many times where I try to sneak a cigarette throughout the day, and not having that will probably cut down on me just smoking in general, maybe eventually leading me to quitting,” she said.

In his letter, Kerwin cited health and environmental concerns as his motivation for implementing the ban.

Kerwin said he felt the current smoking policy, which bans smoking within 25 feet of campus buildings, is not effective.

“This has not proved to be satisfactory, however, as the effects of secondhand smoke are a proven health risk for nonsmokers,” he wrote.

Kerwin will create an implementation committee within the next few weeks to define the policy, according to the email.

“We don’t have a list yet,” said David Taylor, Kerwin’s chief of staff. “But indeed, [we] would welcome suggestions as to who would be representative of various groups.”

Taylor also said AU has no intent of ostracizing those who chose to smoke.

The University will join 825 U.S. colleges with a smoke-free policy, according to no-smoke.org.

George Washington University implemented a partial smoking ban last week similar to the one at AU, according to the GW Hatchet.

AU and GW join Georgetown Medical Center as the only smoke-free campuses in D.C. AU would be the only tobacco-free campus in D.C.

Student reps speak out

Student leaders support designated filtered smoking areas around campus instead of a University-wide smoking ban, according to an open letter to Kerwin.

The leaders, Student Government President Emily Yu, Residence Hall Association President Fiona Erickson and Graduate Leadership Council Executive Chair Lauren Lane, expressed concerns about diversity and inclusion on campus and questioned the feasibility of enforcement of the ban.

Given the recent sex offenses on Massachusetts Avenue, they are concerned that students going off campus to smoke will be unsafe. They also expressed concern that the neighbors would be upset by the new foot traffic and smoke from student smokers, according to the letter.

“Not only will the ban increase the risks to students’ personal safety at off-campus locations, but their forced migration will result in larger implications regarding the university’s reputation in the community,” the letter said.

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