• Mo Jazi

Implementation of Tobacco Free Law and Its Effects At St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University is called a tobacco-free school, but I decided to bring awareness to a better solution after observing violations of this policy on many occasions.

Interestingly enough, the first violation comes from within the school itself. Between Brown Hall and Riverview, there is a smoking recycle bin in the shape of a pentagon with a sign that reads “Please don’t throw cigarette butts on the ground.” 

Why should there be a bin designated for butts if the school is tobacco free? What surprises me is it’s placed right next to one of the maps of the university with a “Tobacco-Free” sign under it.

One time I was sitting in the basement of Stewart Hall with the beautiful view of Mississippi River when I saw a group of students walking there with cigarettes and lighters in hand. After a while, I noticed there was a big bucket there full of butts. The surrounding area, including the lawn and stairs, were (and still are) covered with enormous amount of butts. 

As days went by, I noticed more and more places abounding with remains of cigarettes, including the area around Miller Library and its gardens.

Good or bad, there are those of us at St. Cloud State from employers, employees, students and others who like to smoke cigarettes regardless of the regulation. 

St. Cloud State began talking about the possibility of joining the circle of tobacco-free schools in 2011 after recommendations made by Smoking Policy Review Task Force. The decision phased into completion after the suggestion of one-year transition of permitting smoking on 17 designated area on the campus. By 2014, the university became tobacco-free, including e-cigarettes and smoke inhalators.

I am not writing to support or oppose this tobacco-free policy. No one can deprive us of deciding what to do, but one thing we should certainly take heed of is to prevent further pollution of our planet and damaging our body’s immune system.

Science has proven smoking not only damages the person who chooses to use tobacco, but it has perilous dangers for those exposed to the smoke. Moreover, the butts thrown away in gardens would spoil the quality of soil, resulting in destruction of plants and trees in the long term.

Students breaching the policy are treated in three different steps. First, they are issued a written warning. A second violation means the student is required to meet up with conduct officers, resulting in educational programs and other incendiary fees. If a third time violation occurs, officers decide the best course of action. 

If employees are not abiding by the rule, their supervisors are to be informed and decisions are to be made accordingly.

In the worst scenario, violators might be expelled, but would that solve any problem? It would only create antagonism toward St. Cloud State. 

Also, it costs more money and takes more time and energy to clean up the butts than creating more designated spots where smokers can go and damage their immune system, others’ health and more importantly the planet.

The best steps to take are to educate the community more about the dangers of smoking and help people relax in other ways than resorting to smoking.

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