Smokeless campuses on the rise

The University recently went tobacco-free, following a trend of similar policies in the U.S.

Zoe DiCicco

Before the University of Minnesota’s smoking and tobacco ban took effect, it was subject to years of debate that at times grew contentious.

Though the University’s ban just went into effect on July 1, it’s far from unique. Hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide had already jumped on similar restrictions, displaying a trend toward smoke-free campuses that some say is becoming the new normal.

The University’s ban — which prohibits any form of tobacco use on all University property — follows in the footsteps of five other Big Ten schools that went entirely smoke-free in the past 10 years.

Two others in the conference only allow smoking in select areas on campus, and three Big Ten schools, including the University, prohibit both smoking and tobacco use.

In 2008, Indiana University became the first school in the Big Ten to ban smoking and tobacco on its campus.

Jerry Minger, superintendent of public safety at Indiana University, said there weren’t many issues or complaints when the ban was first implemented and he doesn’t hear about the policy very often.

He said banning smoking and tobacco is becoming popular among universities and colleges and is “a growing trend within all communities.”

Ferdinand Schlapper, Boynton Health Service’s director and chief health officer, said the University community’s reception to the ban has been overall positive so far, adding that policies like the University’s aren’t uncommon.

When Schlapper first began working at Boise State University a decade ago, he said, there were very few smoke-free schools.

Now, nearly 1,400 colleges and universities nationwide are smoke-free, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

“The trend is overwhelming in this direction, and not one school has gone in the other direction,” Schlapper said.

The ban also had strong support at the Twin Cities campus before it went into place.

More than 60 percent of students said in a 2013 Boynton College Student Health Survey that they supported a smoke-free campus policy.

In that same survey, about 10 percent of students said they smoked daily.

When the ban began, Schlapper said media outlets asked him why it took the University so long to go smoke-free and questioned why others haven’t yet, which he said “is really an interesting change in the trend.”

Though the fall semester just began and the policy is still new, Schlapper said he believes the University’s ban has been successful thus far, and he doesn’t expect any problems.

“We’re not getting a lot of angry pushback, and people recognize that this is the way the trends are going,” he said.