Task force proposes new campus smoking limits

by Micah Johnson

Depending on whom you ask, the walk across the Washington Avenue Bridge takes either five minutes or one cigarette.

But a new proposal by a Boynton Health Service committee might change the winter walkway into a smoke-free sector.

The Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use Task Force will soon send a proposal to University President Mark Yudof recommending a ban on smoking in the covered bridge and within 25 feet of campus building entrances.

“This is a move to curb the effects of secondhand smoke and reduce smoking,” said Ed Ehlinger, Boynton Health Service director and ATOD committee chairman. “It really came from community requests.”

Senior English education major Grace Ryan was one of six students in a small-group communications class that worked to add the pedestrian walkway ban to the proposal.

“Nobody knows the walkway is actually a building – smoking should be prohibited inside,” Ryan said.

Ryan said her group has already interviewed smokers on the Washington Avenue Bridge, and all agreed to put out their cigarettes or leave the enclosed passageway.

Maia Reed, a junior English major in Ryan’s group, said she was confident students will comply next fall if the proposal is passed.

“We’re sure the students are mature enough to respect it,” Reed said.

Ehlinger said the ATOD committee would work hard to enforce the new policies if they are implemented. He said new signs would be posted by buildings and on the bridge, and ashtrays would be moved to new designated smoking areas.

In addition, Ehlinger said, University police would issue fines to students who repeatedly violate the new policy.

Freshman biochemistry major Jake Varshal, who smokes regularly, doubted the proposal would be effective if passed.

“I’d probably just smoke on the bridge anyway,” Varshal said. “They’re not going to have people posted there watching me. I mean, how can you patrol the entrance to every building on campus?”

Micah Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]