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Tobacco Free Campus Policy Violates Students Rights

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No longer will we see students huddled outside of the library taking a cigarette break during a stressful study session. 

In January of 2020, UAlbany will be adopting a 100% tobacco and smoke free policy. Through this change, university administration aims to create a campus environment free of second-hand smoke and tobacco. 

While the policy has good intentions in mind, its effects will complicate the lives of many students and staff who need tobacco to get through the day. 

The ban strictly encompasses all forms of tobacco—in both smoked and smokeless form. The banning of smoked tobacco is reasonable, but the additional banning of smokeless tobacco—products like chew or snuff—is excessive. This crosses the line between creating a smoke-free environment and controlling what students can or cannot put into their body. 

In the case of chewing tobacco and similar smokeless forms of the substance, its consumption will have no effect on people around campus. It is widely known that chewing tobacco can cause cancer, but users know what they’re getting themselves into when they use it. 

It’s commendable that the university cares about their students and staff’s health, but it’s out of place for the university to make these kinds of decisions for them. For forms of tobacco that don’t emit smoke, the university should not get involved. 

It will be interesting to see how strictly this policy is going to be enforced. Will UPD officers and Resident Life officials take every chance they get to write up students who have chosen the wrong time to smoke a cigarette? In addition, will staff and professors participate in holding students accountable for their smoking habits? Even with the ban in effect, I suspect that it won’t intimidate smokers enough to not quickly take a hit from their vape when no one’s looking. 

For those who are dreading the change in policy and are anxious about not being able to  satiate their need for nicotine, the university offers cessation resources for both students and staff. While this policy is strict and crosses boundaries in some regards, it’s important to know there are lifelines available for those who are addicted.  

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