Tobacco-free policy changes student behavior

A tobacco-free policy instituted this semester has prompted student smokers to start moving to the outskirts of campus.

Physics student Dsai Chang said he has no choice but to seclude himself whenever he feels the urge to smoke.

“What I do is just find a corner far from the people to smoke, because currently I cannot live without tobacco,” Chang said.

He said he has attempted to quit smoking on multiple occasions but has not been able to accomplish that goal, Chang said.

“I am not a strong enough person to quit,” Chang said. “I have already tried to quit it like 30 times.”

The policy, implemented in August, bans smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products on all ASU campuses and associated properties, but it excludes privately owned vehicles and leased University residences that are designated smoking areas, according to a policy document.

The policy was adopted to protect the health and interests of people who do not smoke or use tobacco, said Justin Zeien, president of the Health and Counseling Student Action Committee.

“We recognize that there is a far greater amount of people who do not smoke and do not use tobacco than people that do,” Zeien said.
According to the ASU Tobacco-free Initiative website, 86.4 percent of ASU students do not smoke cigarettes.

Chang said he realizes that his habit offends people and tries to be courteous to other students by moving away from them when he smokes.

“A lot of people don’t like smoking, and because I’m a smoker, I understand people do not like me when I’m smoking,” Chang said.

Colleges around the nation have found that community enforcement is more effective than giving out fines, Zeien said.

“With fines, people are more inclined to rebel, because they feel like you are attacking (and) taking away their rights, so they are more inclined to do the behavior that is not allowed,” Zeien said.

There is no federal or state law that protects “the right to smoke,” and ASU has the power to regulate its property, according to the ASU Tobacco-free Initiative website.
Health sciences major Christian Martinez said he understands the merits of the policy but isn’t strongly against people smoking.

“It doesn’t bother me too much,” he said. “I mean, I understand people want to smoke. That’s fine.”

The Health and Counseling Student Action Committee is working on creating cessation classes and groups to help students quit but guides them to other programs as well, Zeien said.

“There is a lot of entities involved in helping students quit and offering resources,” Zeien said. “We’re part of it but not everything.”

Zeien said he has already noticed a considerable difference within the campus but that there is still some more work to be done with students who decide to ignore the policy.

Chang said he does not fully abide by the policy but instead keeps to the outskirts of campus to avoid any issues.

“Sometimes I really need it, so I have no choice,” Chang said.

Reach the reporter at ldelato2@asu.edu