I work on the first floor at the School of Social Work and my office gets flooded with smoke every time someone is smoking outside or in the school service corridor which is often .Between the students ,school staff, facilities staff and outside contractor's crews is almost all day long that I must endure this situation. I'm for the 20 feet rule but no one is enforcing it as we are outside the main campus but I would really prefer a complete smoking ban. Thank you for your time.
Though I unfortunately cannot attend tonight, I’d like to thank you for organizing this Town Hall. I fully support a total smoking ban campus-wide. Fingers crossed!
I live on the first floor of Lenfest Hall, the law school apartment complex located at Amsterdam and 121st Street. Because this is a Columbia-owned residential building, I assume it falls within the current rule that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of a campus building. However, many smokers in the building - and in the community - sit on the wall immediately below my window and smoke. As such, these smokers are mere inches from a Columbia building. The smoke usually fills my apartments and I am forced to withstand this for many hours throughout the day and night.
I completely support the 20ft rule, as well as a possible ban on smoking. However, I am concerned that this is not enforced. I am upset that I must be exposed to this smoke on a daily basis and am disappointed that the campus does not do more to stop this.
I would like to request that the University do more to enforce these rules. Even a sign on the wall of building - outside - that explained that smoking is prohibited within 20ft would suffice as a start to solving this issue.
Let me state that I am not a regular (or even casual) smoker; I enjoy a cigar or two every month, but that's not something that would be affected one way or another by a smoking ban on campus (as I don't smoke here).
I wish the Senate would concern itself with more important issues, such as the disaster that is the new ARC financial management system, or the University's (mis)handling of patents. Instead, the Senate appears to pursue topics that are close to heart to a small number of very vocal anti-smokers --- as best I can tell, for no better reason than because they simply don't like *smokers*. (They also don't like smoking, but banning that practice on University grounds isn't going to have any measurable impact. Expecting anything else is wishful thinking at best.)
The current policy is fine. Move on.
Unfortunately, I’m not able to attend this evening’s meeting, but I do want to weigh in on the subject so thank you very much for providing a forum for us to do so.
I think Columbia should move to being a smoke-free campus. Our offices face the front of the building and when students smoke out there we can smell it strongly in our space. Given what we know about the health impact of second-hand smoke, I think it’s imperative that we take stronger action here. We also have to acknowledge that the whole “no smoking within 50 feet of the front door” thing has definitely not worked. Students still smoke right in front of the building and when it rains, they’ll actually stand in the doorway and smoke.
I also strongly feel though, that CU will have to step up its game in terms of monitoring (trying not to use the word policing here) smoking activity on campus and make sure that, if smokers violate the new policy (provided it goes into effect), they are directed to leave campus. Many of my colleagues have been yelled at by students when they tried politely to ask them to smoke further away from the building and it’s stressful and disheartening. Administrators shouldn’t have to police this kind of activity. Most of us don’t get paid enough to be exposed to cancer-inducing smoke; we also don’t get paid enough to be verbally abused by smokers so I’m hoping that, if we do move to being a smoke-free campus, that public safety will make sure it’s enforced and have more authority in this area.
A total smoking ban on campus would be stupid in my opinion,
especially if the main argument is how well Barnard's ban has worked.
The only reason it worked there is because it's a much smaller
Perhaps it could be put up to a vote? I for one agree that the 20 ft ban is not being appropriately enforced and have even seen people smoking INSIDE the EC courtyard. This poses a health danger for the entire columbia community and perhaps a ban would make clear that these students need to pursue help to quit.
I won't be able to present myself at the meeting on Thursday, but I would like to make a few remarks regarding the 2012 Smoking Task Force Recommendations. First, to report that NYU is a "smoke-free campus," when that university prides itself, in informational sessions, on having no "campus" as such, is absurd. Second, small flowerpots filled with sand, especially when far away from a building, are not immediately recognized by smokers (or by anyone else, I'd wager) as receptacles for cigarette butts. Third, the 20-foot rule is not only difficult to enforce, but also often ridiculous, when one considers that in certain places, buildings to which that rule applies are not even twenty feet away from each other. For example, on the front of the TC dormitory in which I live, there is a sign indicating that smoking is prohibited within fifty feet. There is a similar sign on the building right across the street. One might, therefore, be within one's rights to smoke if one were to stand plum in the middle of the street--but I haven't measured, so perhaps even that is prohibited. I'm absolutely in favor of greater access to smoking cessation programs, to an array of clever and colorful signs that make people want to smoke and to dispose of their cigarettes in certain places, etc., but to declare such a large campus--and one where students who smoke generally do so for momentary relief from the intense stress of daily academic life--again, to declare such a large campus "smoke-free" is pointlessly unfair to many people who decide to smoke; it would be a chiefly symbolic gesture. Furthermore, I find it exceedingly hard to believe that smoking outdoors--at least a few steps away from other people and from open doors and windows--poses a significant health risk to non-smokers who can only be exposed in passing, if at all, to second-hand smoke. Many smokers, however, would doubtless be happy to accept further changes in policy, if they were presented with authoritative scientific literature proving that fleeting exposure to second-hand smoke outdoors is more dangerous than, say, minimal exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
Once, when I was smoking a cigarette near the entrance to Philosophy Hall, a student (an undergraduate, I believe) approached me and kindly asked me to step further away from the building. I laughed, thanked him for having reminded me of Columbia policy, and stepped further away, as he asked me to. If the University wishes better to enforce the smoking policies it has already enacted, it would do well to recall that thoughtful policies and timely, friendly reminders go a long way in solving problems (especially if those problems are anything more than vaine fumée--pardon my French!).
An op-ed on banning smoking on Columbia's campus
Butts. They're everywhere. Clutched between the fingers of my peers, lying strewn on benches, in cracks on the ground, clustered near the grassy lawns, everywhere except in the giant pots placed outside along the walkways.
And that's not all. With the butts comes the smoke. Wispy grey and white, it trails out of the ends of these butts, or escapes from between pursed lips settling into the air as a thick cloud of hazy fumes.
When I push open the doors of the library, they're there. When I walk up to my dorm, they're there. As I exit the building where my classes are held, I almost walk straight into them. They're everywhere.
Their effect on campus is undeniable. Whether or not their presence is justifiable is another question. I, like many other students at Columbia University here in the City of New York, would prefer living in an environment where I'm not constantly breathing in those noxious fumes and stepping on half-burnt cigarette butts as a result of my nicotine-loving peers.
In similar situations, it has always been possible to find common ground. On other campuses, smoking rules are enforced, and limitations such as smoking boundaries have served to keep smoking to a minimally invasive level for those who wish to avoid smoke and secondhand smoke, while still allowing smoking in certain zones for those who feel the need to do so.
Columbia University is one such institution, having implemented a “twenty-foot rule” back in 2010. However, a recent 2012 report, after taking two years to assess the effectiveness of this legislation. came to the conclusion that it was mostly ignored by students, faculty, and visitors alike. The signs posted in buildings and at the edges of the twenty-foot zones have been largely ignored, with cigarette butts found in the tens almost everywhere but inside of designated cigarette disposals.
Simply put, the rule doesn't work. For whatever reason, it seems as if smokers will do all they can to break the already ineffectual rule, whether it entails smoking as close to Columbia's buildings as possible, or littering cigarette butts on benches, ledges, or the ground.
Why does Columbia turn a blind eye when it comes to the blatant disregard of its own policy? It's hardly as if it is attempting to keep in line with the rules set by other institutions - in fact, as the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights group has pointed out, as of 2011, an increased number of Universities and Colleges nationwide (648, to be exact) have implemented comprehensive campus smoke-bans.
There is a reason behind such a high number of smoke-free campuses. According to WebMD, “air pollution emitted by cigarettes is 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust…environmental tobacco smoke produces fine particulate matter, which is the most dangerous element of air pollution for health”. With statistics like these, it's hard to see why anyone should be filling not only their lungs, but also the lungs of those around them, with toxic material more polluted than car emissions.
If you still don't believe tobacco smoke is dangerous for your health, consider the statement made by James Repace. A Visiting Assistant Professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine, Repace claims, “tobacco smoke contains at least 172 toxic substances, including 3 regulated outdoor air pollutants, 33 Hazardous Air Pollutants, 47 Chemicals restricted as Hazardous Waste and 67 Known Human or Animal Carcinogens. This is true whether tobacco smoke is inhaled in the act of smoking, or inhaled by nonsmokers out of the air”. Lovely, isn't it?
The act of smoking itself raises an issue that is both complex and controversial. While the health of our citizens is certainly important, a comprehensive smoking ban doesn't seem to be in store for our nation anytime soon. Columbia University, however, can and should make an executive decision in the realm of smoking bans.
Let us look at the facts. Smoking is bad for you. Secondhand smoke is also bad for you. Columbia's smoking rule, which prohibits smoking within twenty feet of any building, is largely ignored. As a result, tobacco smoke is prevalent pretty much everywhere on campus, accompanied by a littering of butts in every place imaginable except for the actual disposals. Over six-hundred universities have campus-wide smoking bans, which eliminate the air pollution, health risks, and litter resulting from smoking, an unfortunately absent policy in Columbia.
The answer is evident - Columbia needs to implement a "no butts" policy and say no to smoking on its campus.
I won't be able to make that meeting, but YES, a complete ban on smoking anywhere on campus would be a lot easier than enforcing a 20-foot rule. It gives clarity to the smokers and everyone else, whereas the 20-foot rule is subject to errors (smokers who don't know the rule and see others smoking will just smoke anywhere) and generally sloppy application.
Sorry, hope you don't get inundated with emails. I'd love to have somewhere to go where I know I can breathe without having to dodge, hold my breath, follow trails of smoke, etc.
thank you; though it would surely be helpful if such a meeting were held up at Lamont as well.
I cannot make it to the meeting, but I believe a complete ban should be exercised as far too many people are prematurely dying and aging because of cigarettes, and the second hand smoke is no social bargain either in its absolute potency. Just note the enormous incidence of emphysema in our hospitals where these patient frequently terminate their lives because of their illness.
Many thanks for acknowledging my remarks as our students are precious persons so endowed with academic properties for productive professionalism, a shame to waste this prematurely.
I would love to see the campus declared a smoke free zone completely! Would we be getting an email of the final decision?
We have/had a sign "no smoking within 20 feet" outside of Butler library. LIBERALLY moved around, and clearly ignored, and students get offended when the sign is pointed out to them. In front of Avery there is "no smoking within 50 feet" -- also ignored.
a "non-smoking campus" would be the best way to go. EVERYBODY should be notified about that: new students, new hirees, and signs should be posted in many spots, not just the "strategically" located. and "no smoking within 20 feet" outside ALL gates!
I know, it all sounds very strict, but it would be a great brave new world!
I am an alumnus and a current employee of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and I am in opposition to any changes to the smoking policy or any further restrictions on smoking on campus. There are already designated smoking areas on campus, I don't believe introducing more restrictions will convince smokers to abandon their habit or walk off campus to smoke. Also I don't believe there is any way to effectively enforce further restrictions.
Further I believe an awareness campaign and publicity will only serve to further demonize smoking and smokers, rather than highlight that it is in fact a preference. These campaigns are always hostile and full of miss information and serve to create an unnecessarily charged atmosphere.
Columbia claims to be a global university, the extreme stigma to smoking that exists is a by-product of the recent popular obsession with certain health issues that is hypocritical and unbalanced, this stigma is most prevalent in this country and is not universal.
Rather than wasting time and effort focusing on this issue, there are a myriad of other issues that does affect the university population, such as the fact that school spirit at this university is practically non-existent, part of the reason for that is the fact that there are few hang out spaces indoors for students, besides the cafeteria and the steps. Or the fact that benefits for Columbia employees, specifically the tuition benefits have eroded over time, or the fact that the gym is not free for Columbia employees, or the fact that there is no advertized forum for members of the Columbia community to suggest how to build a closer more inclusive atmosphere and school spirit etc etc etc.
There are many issues to focus on that can help the Columbia Community. Rather than focusing on a sensational non-issue that is divisive, we should focus on improvements to the university that will foster a sense of community.
I am on leave so am unable to attend the meeting, but I strongly support a smoking ban on campus. Bans on smoking within so many feet of a building are ineffective (e.g., the current 20 foot ban is routinely violated outside IAB).
The policy of no-smoking within 20 feet from CU buildings should be enforced!! In my opinion, we should increase 20 feet to 50 feet.
I have worked here almost seven years. I have always been surprised that in this day and age (and enlightenment) that Columbia has allowed smoking on campus. So many of the ways to navigate the campus are “single file” and many times I have been stuck behind a smoker and not able to get around them (due to the bushes and barriers of the pathway). Suffering from allergies, it has been a tremendous nuisance and a health concern. Not to mention how it permeates my hair and clothes for the rest of the day. As an employee, it gives the impression that the overall Columbia administration does not put an emphasis on healthcare and wellness programs. So my two cents worth would be to eliminate it. The signs posted to smoke away from buildings have been useless and are largely ignored by students, administrators and faculty. And no one to enforce it (I’ve not once seen anyone asked to move away from the entrances…).
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to voice an opinion about the smoking policy. I applaud any efforts to have it banned from campus. It just seems like the smart thing for an Ivy League school to do!
I'm glad this is being addressed. Though, I won't be able to make it to the meeting myself, I thought I should mention the smoking issue occurring outside of William and June Warren Hall on 115 and Amsterdam Ave. Many students smoke and congregate directly outside or in front of the main entrance causing two issues. One, trying to walk in and out of the building become difficult, and two, we are constantly subject to inhaling smoke as soon as we exit or enter the building. It would be great if we could have enforcement of the 20 foot rule especially with campus safety support.
Amanda M. Beltran
While public health and individual rights concerns can be volleyed back and forth for an indefinite period, the clear benefit of a non-smoking campus policy is enforceability. The 20 foot rule is untenable. I can't think of anyone, myself included, who can eyeball a 20-foot distance off the top of their head. This makes the policy unclear for smokers as well as anyone who would try to help with enforcement. While I have observed some blatant violations (smoking within only a few feet of the door) it seems the majority of the slip-ups could be simply be unclear boundaries for the smoker. Making the campus non-smoking creates a more clearly-defined area of enforcement: it will be readily apparent when one is inside or outside the bounds.
The smokers are not a problem on campus. The campus is comprised of adults and emancipated minors that are responsible for their own actions and choices. Smoking is a choice. Let them make their own choices.
Let the smokers smoke in designated areas away form buildings.
I believe smoking should be banned from campus completely. It has been
long overdue. Thank you for listening.
I am sorry for not being able to attend tonight's meeting but am
wholeheartedly for a comprehensive ban on smoking for the entire
Columbia campus and am still bewildered why this initiative has still
not been put into place. As scholars, how can we not learn from other
reasonable bans spanning the globe? Smoking and breathing in second
hand smoke causes cancer and kills. There is no cure for cancer.
Smokers should not have the ability to inflict their damaging
externalities on others. As a parent, children and young adults
should not have to be subjected to such blatant disregard for
society's health. Also, as a GSAPP student, it is utterly impossible
to enter or exit the building without breathing in smoke, even as I
hold my breath as long as possible. Smokers stand and gather at the
entrance of the building no mater if it is 20 feet or not, it doesn't
matter. There is no other way to escape such reprehension, even if
using the handicap entrance. Anything less than a total campus ban on
smoking is unacceptable. We don't tolerate climate deniers, why
should we placate smokers! Evidence is unequivocal! Don't wait any
longer. BAN SMOKING NOW.
Columbia's Morningside campus is absolutely beautiful. When I walk outside, I feel inspired by the location. Looking at Low Library everyday is a constant reminder of my purpose here and how blessed of an opportunity I have. However, I shouldn't have to hold my breath for everytime someone around me smokes. People get cancer from second hand smoke -- I don't want to breathe it in. It really ruins a beautiful sunny day when I am walking, enjoying the fresh air, when all of a sudden I have to pass by smokers. Smoking also worsens my mood in the winter, because not only is having the air so cold bad enough, but now I also have to hold my breath everytime I pass by smokers.
I may seem unsympathetic to the other side, but smoking is really ridiculous. Every person attending Columbia should know that smoking does nothing good for them. At a school that boasts such intellectual talent and works to create active citizens, choosing to smoke is a terrible paradox. Some may think I am exaggerating, but I honestly have to deal with smokers everyday that I am on campus -- whether outside, or because elevators smell like smoke, or the person next to me in class just finished smoking and now I have a headache throughout the whole class.
Please ban it!
I wanted to register my support for extending the smoking ban to a complete one, or to one of designated areas that are easy to avoid for now smokers. I have often had to ask people to pay attention to the sign, and they just as often have ignored me. My grandfather died of lung cancer, my brother was a second-hand "smoker" from birth and then on his own from his teenage years until his first of three brain tumors. I don't want to be exposed to someone else's smoke and having people standing outside building entrances (often nearby for shelter from wind or rain) forces everyone to inhale. It is fine if people smoke away from other people, but the current system is not working.
I was not able to attend the town hall meeting last night. Please, was the topic of prevention discussed? I believe that there is much more that can be done to prevent the behavior of smoking among first-years. I have some ideas that I can perhaps share with Michael McNeil or someone else from the senate who would like to meet in person.
Also, regarding designated smoking zones, I think it would be helpful to check out UNC-Chapel Hill's campus policies. I am from North Carolina and I remember one of the few places one could smoke was actually in the center of a main undergraduate quad!
Anyway, I appreciate you all working hard on this issue that affects us all, especially with cessation programs so people who smoke have health support resources. I hope that I can positively contribute to the proposal for improvement.
I hope you don’t mind that I take a moment to let you know, briefly, my thought on the contemplated campus-wide ban on smoking tobacco at Morningside campus. Forgive me if a campus-wide ban has already been tabled as the really lousy idea that it is. Had I been able to come to the meeting, I would certainly be better informed.
In brief, I oppose such a move.
I’m a non-smoker, but I have witnessed the disgraceful way in which people who use tobacco have been treated in this city and state. They have been onerously taxed, for one, which is both hypocritical and rapacious at the same time.
Reasonably speaking, there can be no justification for a campus wide smoking ban. Even the NYC Department of Health, not known for their lack of hyperbole on the subject of second hand smoke, has confirmed that there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that second hand smoke outdoors is a hazard to anyone. They did say maybe you should not stand within 4 feet of someone using tobacco, if you were worried.
Since there is no legitimate health concern, one is led to conclude that the proposal is born of prejudice and intolerance. People who use tobacco have certainly seen enough of that.
Thank you for taking up the issue of smoking on campus. As a recent MA graduate and full-time Columbia employee, I feel very strongly that smoking should be banned on campus. I have attended several universities during my student career and have worked at various school campuses. They have all enacted smoking bans, and I appreciated the clean and healthy environment those bans provided.
I currently work in Butler Library. It is upsetting that since there is only one entrance into the building, I am forced to walk through smoke every time I leave or exit. Often smokers position themselves right next to the front door, and I have no other option but to walk through their smoke to get to work. I feel that second hand smoke exposure is not something I should be forced to endure just to come to work every day.
Kristen La Follette
I was wondering if you and your team thought about having "Smoking Pod"s (Convenient hubs) for those that wish to smoke outside?
Michelle L. Ellis
I am not able to attend the Town Hall, however. As a Columbia student I would like to express my opinion on the smoking policy, via this email. A leading global University Columbia is in pace with modern and most recent technologies, most provoking thought leaders, challenging and relevant to current developments classes. To continue its image as a leading institution Columbia should follow the 21st century trend and ban smoking on its campus and around its buildings.
By banning smoking around its buildings Columbia will not only contribute to the global effort of reducing smoking, but also encourage healthy lifestyles for its students, faculty and guests. The smoke around the campus affects non-smokers as well. For example some of my friends that suffer from allergies and other breathing complications are compelled to take different entry routes into the (various) buildings due to smoke. This is an unfortunate circumstance and an inconvenience to the non-smokers that have all rights to enjoy fresh air and choose the entry (into buildings/classrooms) they please without fearing that their health is in jeopardy.
I strongly encourage a "smoke-free Columbia" for a healthy and prosperous Columbia community!
I recently quit smoking but I remain with a frustration with the no smoking within 20 feet policy. It is not fair to students who do smoke - school is stressful enough without this policy. Smoking is an addiction with cravings and students shouldn't have to stand in the rain to be able to smoke a cigarette.
I understand other students desire to have clean air and I feel that desire should be respected but students who do smoke are generally accommodating in attempting to keep their distance and smoke in a reasonable area. All Columbia buildings should have a designated smoking area outside but under cover - I'm sure this designated area would be respected by both smokers and non-smokers.
Additionally, it's unacceptable for students to be harassed by Columbia Grounds Faculty over smoking on the sidewalk outside of the buildings. I've witnessed one Columbia staff do this multiple times. Sidewalks are public property, anyone has the right to smoke on them; any passerby's have plenty of room to avoid the air of smokers.
I don't have a problem with people smoking less than 20 feet from buildings, and actually think it would be excessively punitive and stigmatizing to force them into little smoking pens far away, especially when it's this cold.
I want to vote for either ban on smoking or restricting it to a even more exclusive area. From what I've seen, the '20 feet' rule almost never works, and I've seen people smoking not even 5 feet away from the entrance almost every day. Whenever I have to go into buildings for class, I have to pass through a cloud of cigarette smoke, and as a non-smoker, it is very unpleasant -- also I'm not happy about risking my own health multiple times a day this way. I've also seen cases where the smoke from smokers near the building entrance fills up the air above the second floor of that building.
Thank you again for your work.