Effective April 19, Miami Dade College’s Board of Trustees approved an amendment to Policy II-7 that enacts a campus-wide smoking ban.
According to an April 20 email sent by College President Eduardo J. Padrón, smoking will be prohibited in “all buildings and portions of buildings owned or leased by the College.”The email goes onto to say that the resolution will “promote and foster a healthier and cleaner campus environment for our students, staff, faculty and visitors.”
This College policy amendment extends the smoking ban to outdoor areas including atria, entrance and exit ways, enclosed hallways within buildings, parking lots, grounds, rooftops, plazas, courtyards and any other areas of the college campus.
Overall, it is a lukewarm attempt with no real solutions. In fact, it brings about more questions.
For example, the policy document does not appear explicit on actual methods of enforcement, mentioning that violators “should be reminded of the policy,” and then asked to discard their tobacco products.
But it is not clear on what repercussions students will face if they violate the policy. It is a toothless action that can’t be enforced because the enforcers are not sure what to enforce.
Furthermore, the policy seems to be geared toward protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke, which is commendable, but goes on to ignore its effect on those who smoke.
Smoking does not make someone a second-class citizen or an enemy of the state.
The College has made a lackluster effort leading up to this resolution. There were no college-wide tobacco-cessation initiatives in place leading up to this resolution, and there still aren’t. Additionally, Padrón’s April 20 email suggests no alternatives to smokers other than a handful of “resources,” which mainly consist of third-party cessation programs from local, state and federal agencies.
The initiative’s webpage—http://www.mdc.edu/smokefree—mentions no recourse for smokers other than complying with the policy, and then goes on to cite secondhand smoke statistics.
A press release on the College’s website about the smoking ban follows the pattern, offering no option but compliance, and then allocating a disproportionate amount of its content to how the College is committed “sustainability practice” and an “exceptional work environment.”
It is too easy to assume that this smoking ban is more of an public relations campaign than a legitimate effort to curb smoking. Even the imagery being used to present the initiative looks more like a Corona Light advertisement than a serious attempt to promote a “healthier environment for learning and working.”
So where do we stand?
Should smokers fear being handcuffed if they violate policy and refuse to abide by the guidelines set?
Will they be ticketed?
The truth is that no clear-cut answers exist.
The College states clearly in its amended policy: “The responsibility for the enforcement and communication of this policy rests with all members of the college community.”
How is this approach different to what may happen without college intervention? Surely if a non-smoker were bothered by a smoker, they would politely ask them not to do so.
Until the smoking ban is more defined and makes a real attempt at helping those that struggle with nicotine addiction, it will remain as hazy as a cloud of smoke.