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ASU to crack down on tobacco-free policy

Violators of ASU's tobacco-free policy will face penalties starting in June

Tobacco enforcement Tempe

A tobacco-free campus sign is displayed on the Tempe campus on Sunday, May 24, 2015. ASU is stepping up its anti-tobacco enforcement in June.

After the failure of a social enforcement model to deter tobacco use on campus, ASU will begin taking further measures to enforce the university’s tobacco-free policy this June.

For the past two years since the policy was created, ASU has been relying upon students and faculty to approach those who do not follow the policy and ask them to comply.

“Over time, it was evident that social enforcement was not incentive enough for ongoing compliance for some smokers, resulting in members of our community walking through smoke filled areas and smoke entering the ventilation system of some buildings,” ASU Director of Wellness, Karen Moses, wrote in an email.

This has led ASU to increase signage and education about the policy and ultimately to begin fining those in violation of the policy at the start of June, Moses said.

According to a policy enforcement announcement made on April 28, ASU intends to issue a warning to students who do not follow the tobacco-free guidelines. For a first violation, there will be a $50 fine. For a second violation, there will be an additional $50 fine plus a referral to the Dean of Students for a third violation.

Staff and faculty who do not comply with the policy will be subject to all the same fines as students, as well as a referral to their supervisor upon second and third violations.

In order to locate those violating the policy, ASU is creating a tobacco-free enforcement team.

“The Dean of Students office is training a student enforcement team, similar to the Walk-Only Zone enforcement team," Moses said. "These student employees will patrol the campus, respond to complaints, and issue violation notices to those who are using tobacco at ASU Tempe."

Students part of the Walk-Only enforcement team, like computer science graduate student, Manas Sharma, said that a separate tobacco-free enforcement team would be very helpful.

Sharma said that currently, the walk-only enforcement team shoulders the responsibility of locating those using tobacco on campus and alerting the ASU Police Department.

“We should promote a non-smoking environment on campus,” Sharma said after he expressed his own willingness to join the tobacco-free enforcement team when it is formed.

The university shares this opinion and ASU Wellness will be hosting its second-annual Fork the Smoke! tobacco-free challenge from starting this November in addition to its regular support services for students looking to quit.

ASU’s website states that 86.4 percent of ASU students do not smoke cigarettes and 92.1% of ASU students do not smoke tobacco using a hookah according to the American College Health Association as of 2011, and for those students who make up this majority, like mechanical engineering junior Ben Gholami, the tobacco-free policy enforcement comes as a relief.

Gholami said that he has noticed an improvement on campus, with less people smoking since the policy has been in place, but he is hopeful that the enforcement methods will be effective in further reducing the amount of smoking on campus.

“I remember like two years ago a lot of people used to smoke in (the area around Memorial Union) and it was intolerable sometimes,” Gholami said. “I just don’t feel comfortable when someone is smoking.”

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