Campus smoking policy up for debate in SG survey

Current Coral Gables campus smoking policy states that students cannot smoke indoors or within 25 feet of residential colleges. A survey created by the UM smoking committee may change that.

The committee includes smokers and non-smokers from the undergraduate, graduate and law schools, as well as administrators and Human Resource personnel.

“We felt that the current smoking policy needed to be changed,” said Gilbert Arias, assistant vice president for student affairs.

Sophomore Ryan Aquilina, the SG press secretary, headed the undergraduate part of the committee.

“I was sitting on the campus smoking research committee, and the committee was talking about what it thought students wanted. So I thought, why don’t we find out what they actually want?” said Aquilina, who created the survey.

The two-page survey consists of four basic options. Students can decide whether they would like to keep the current policy or expand it to include a 25-foot no-smoking zone around non-residential buildings like the library.  There are also options to make designated smoking areas or even to make the campus smoke-free.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, 1,368 students had responded to the survey. According to Aquilina, students have been giving very strong opinions.

“I will leave the school if smoking is banned on campus,” read one anonymous answer.

Sophomore Robert Rankin felt that the designated smoking area was the best idea on the survey.

“I find smoking to be an infringement on my right to clean air. I would want a smoke-free campus, but I think it would be fairer to have designated smoking areas,” he said.

Junior Dallas Marlow had a slightly different opinion.

“I think the most important thing is to keep the 25 foot no smoking zone around the residential colleges. Though I am not a smoker, I don’t think the smoking policy should be changed,” Marlow said.

The change in smoking policy at the Miller School of Medicine was another factor that prompted the survey. The medical campus went smoke-free in March 2010. However, committee members and SG stressed that the Coral Gables campus will be viewed differently than the medical campus. Since around 40 percent of undergraduate students live on campus, the issue has a more widespread impact.

“The Coral Gables campus is different from the Miller School of Medicine because no one lives at the medical campus,” SG Vice President Pietro Bortoletto said.

If the smoking policy on campus changes drastically, safety regulations and enforcement issues will have to be taken into consideration.

“If the campus were to go smoke-free, smoking off campus would be a possible safety concern. The committee would also have to look at who would enforce the policy and what the consequences would be,” SG President Christina Farmer said.

A smoke-free campus would also have some major opposition from students who smoke.

The committee will meet after Nov. 12 to analyze the data and determine if the campus smoking policy will see major changes.

Kylie Banks may be contacted at