Sharyn O’ Halloran: So, good evening. I’m Sharyn O’Halloran. I’m the George Blumenthal Professor of Political Economy, as well as the chair of the Executive Committee of the University Senate. So thank you very much for participating in our ongoing debate regarding smoking policy at Columbia University.
I would like to welcome everyone to this participatory process, town hall meeting. Here, our purpose of the forum is really twofold. One, to update the community about the roll-out of the policy that was enacted two years ago, on the Morningside campus, that restricted smoking to the 20-foot limit; and also to get feedback on a new policy regarding the potential of limiting further the restrictions on smoking on campus, university-wide.
What is said tonight will provide the basis of recommendations on how the university community can best engage this important public health issue, while staying true to our mission of an open and free environment for teaching, learning, and research. So your participation is very much welcomed, and very important for this process. We also encourage you to send emails or comments and suggestions to the Senate staff.
Now the process, then, will be structured as follows. We’ll have a series of overview presentations, and then an opportunity for the community to ask questions, and to express their opinions and concerns. First we’ll have Francis Lee, from the medical school. He actually chairs the task force on Morningside and Lamont policy, and will provide an overview of the current policy, including the restrictions on the 20-foot ban. I’m going to go through it. We’ll then have Brendan O’Flaherty, who’s from Economics. He’ll talk about the proposed policy. I guess it’s the Proposed Smoking Reduction and Control Policy for the Morningside Campus. Michael McNeil, director of Alice! health promotion, will discuss smoking and student health. And -- please help me -- the wonderful Greek name -- Kalliope Kyriakides, a student from Barnard, will discuss communication and smoking policy, and what the experiences have been on the Barnard campus.
I would, again, like to welcome you, and I look very much forward to an open and productive debate. Just a few ground rules at our town hall meetings -- we want everybody to have the opportunity to express their opinions, and we believe that free expression of opinion is essential to the university, and that all members of the Columbia community have a right to express their views and concerns in a safe environment, no matter what those opinions are. And we ask that everyone be allowed to state their opinion without interruption, and we also ask that you keep your comments short -- no more than, say, a minute or so. Then, so that the panel can hear everybody’s opinions, and get the feedback that’s necessary for us to have, when we’re looking at enacting these alternative policies.
So thank you again for joining us this evening. I look forward to a very productive event.
Francis Y. Lee: Thank you. Good evening. I’m Francis Lee. I’m an orthopedic surgeon, and a professor at Columbia Medical School. I have a disclosure regarding smoking. I’m very neutral. I can talk to a person who is smoking in front of me, although I’m not a smoker.
So today we are here to talk about our smoking policy. The “picture” talks about everything. This is our Morningside campus, north campus, and you can lots of cigarette butts near the building entrance, and near the bench. For this reason, I belong to a Research Policy and External Relations Committee, and we formed a special task force on smoking. Some people -- actually five people -- kindly devoted precious time, and spent an enormous amount of time to get data. We took a lot of pictures, so we could share those pictures with you.
This evening, also, we have some experts. Mr. Michaelides-- another Greek name -- could you stand up, please? Thanks so much for coming. He’s a [unclear] assistant vice-president of [unclear] office, and also Kathleen Crowley, Miss Crowley -- she’s in the back. She is a vice-president. I’m so sorry -- she’s Associate Vice-President of Environmental Health and Safety. Also, we have James McShane. Thanks so much for coming again. He’s Vice-President of Public Safety. All these experts will provide answers if you have any questions.
So, briefly, [unclear] smoking on policy. As you know, New York City adopted no smoking indoors in 2000; as a result, Columbia University followed the rule. We restricted to no indoor smoking. In 2008, there was a proposal for a 50-foot no-smoking, and there have been, really, [unclear] research, and two years later, in 2010, at the Senate plenary meeting, a 20-foot no-smoking rule was adopted. In 2012, two years later, our smoking task force assessed whether the current policy is well implemented.
Over the next three months we actually did a careful survey, and we did a scientific examination a few times, and we came to the following conclusions. I think the pictures really tell everything, so I’ll show some pictures. This is, again, [unclear] north campus. You can recognize Low Library. You will see a lot of smoking receptacles [unclear] the building. A lot of times, as a matter of fact, smokers are really respectful, and dispose of cigarette butts in the receptacles. However, some people -- and I believe it’s only some -- they actually dispose of their cigarette butts all over the place. And one day we collected, and were able to gather as many as 20 cigarette butts, just near the one entrance.
Another pictures, same story. Very interestingly, the receptacle is very nearby; but, somehow, people will throw these cigarette butts randomly. This is when we were still able to see some cigarette butts near the building entrance, and [unclear] very hard to imagine a 20-foot, or 30-foot, or 50 feet, unless I carry a tape measure. But, in summary, we don’t see, really, any evidence of good implementation of current smoking policies.
What of the signage? Yes, we have wonderful buildings on this campus. Therefore, the signage has to follow certain rules. As a result, all the signs are actually very small. It’s very hard to read, and the location of those signs are not really strategically well placed.
What about Health Sciences campus, where I’m working? This is Health Sciences campus. As you know, patients are walking on the street. Therefore, all the smokers are very respectful for smokers and nonsmokers and the patients, and the streets are actually pretty clean. I have some pictures from [Unclear] campus in New York, where the Art Institute is. There are about 20 or 30 cigarette receptacles, which are really nice. However, they’re right against the entrance, as you see in this picture. So, again, the policy does not seem to be well implemented on this campus.
Finally, our task force came up with some suggestions, which we can share this evening. I think we have to really promote a multi-media informational campaign, including and introducing cessation programs. We’ll have to really “increase” signage; also, we have to continuously assess the smoking policy. I put this in a very “gray letter,” which you can hardly read. Also, we may have to talk about some sort of enforcement, but that may be too premature as of today.
So what is the timeline? Your participation this evening is very important. Please share all your creative ideas. And after this town meeting, the Senate committee will take place next Tuesday, or will have some sort of internal board process, and on February 1st, we will have a premier discussion at the Senate meeting, and four weeks later, March 1, 2013, we’ll have a plenary session to vote on this very sensitive issue.
Thank you so much.
Brendan O’Flaherty: I’m Brendan O’Flaherty. I’m in the Economics Department. I do not smoke. For the last 30 years I’ve run “ultra” marathons on a regular basis, but I have lots of friends who smoke.
I am a late addition to this process. I joined the task force in December. We have been meeting. We have been thinking about things. We have been learning, and we’ve been trying to find areas where we agree, so that we can move forward in a good way. We haven’t learned everything, we don’t know everything, and we are still working. But we have learned that we have a great deal of agreement, and we want to move forward on that agreement.
There are three points that we came to agreement on, and I think tonight we are looking to you for feedback on those points. More specifically, some ideas of how to sharpen those points. These are not the most definitive points in the world.
The first point is that we think it’s incredibly important to have easily accessible, easily available smoking cessation programs available to everyone on the campus, at very little cost. We would wish that there be fewer smokers on campus, and a lot of our problems would be reduced if people voluntarily reduced smoking; and, their lives would be better, too. So we’d like to see more opportunities for people to reduce their smoking.
Second, when we roll out a program that people have agreement on, or that passes the Senate, we want to have widespread publicity and a lot of community involvement. As you look at the other universities who have made major changes in their smoking policies, you will see that they have devoted a lot of energy after the fact. It wasn’t just, “Let’s have a vote,” and that’s the end of the game; in fact, the vote, the policy, is more or less the beginning of the process of education and signage, and getting everybody to understand what the policy is, and to go with that policy.
The third point is that we’d like to see smoking permitted only in carefully selected areas, with considerations of public health being foremost in the designation of those permitted areas. We realize there has been some discussion, at the University Senate level, several years ago, about this, well before I was involved. But we think these ideas have merit, and we want to work in that direction. Do we have a map of those areas that we can roll out and show you today? No. We’re a long way from that. We may only be talking about a process, to draw a map. But we want to work in the direction of a map. We also do not rule out the possibility of charging to use these areas. Money is a wonderful thing. It’s a wonderful tool. That’s why I’m an economist.
Okay. Before we bring this to the Senate, we want to sharpen these ideas. That’s why I’m interested in hearing all of you tonight, whatever your inclinations on these things are. We’ve made some progress, but we’re not there yet. Thank you.
Michael McNeil: Good evening. As some of you may know, I chaired a work group that looked at some policy options, a number of years ago, a process that ultimately led to the discussions with the senate, and the development of the 20-foot rule. Today, really, I’m here to talk mostly about what we’ve learned about and the changes we’ve made about, with regard to student health and tobacco use.
A little over four years ago now we completely revamped the cessation program available to students through Columbia Health, specifically through Medical Services. In that time, we’ve seen more than 1,200 students attend a cessation [unclear], 1,2028 through the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. That’s the last year for which a full-year stat is available. Simultaneously, during that time, we’ve been monitoring tobacco use rates among our students, specifically smoking rates. The last data point for that was in the spring of 2011. We’re getting ready to actually collect that data again, beginning next month, but as of 2011, we were at 85% of Columbia students identifying as nonsmokers, or 15% had smoked one or more times in the last 30 days.
Among daily smokers, using cigarettes on a daily basis, it’s in the single digits, in terms of the percentage of students. So we’ve seen more people taking advantage of cessation; we’ve seen a decrease in smoking rates among our students. I will say, with the cessation, there is no supplemental charge for a cessation visit. There is no out-of-pocket charge for over-the-counter nicotine replacement for students who come to the cessation program, including nicotine gum, for example. I am also happy to say that the student insurance plan now covers eight options for prescription medications, related to tobacco cessation -- four available as generics and four available as name brands.
Additionally, one of the pieces of information that has been shared, very specifically, with me, is that we need to do more to increase visibility of the cessation program. So I’m happy to say that within the next couple of weeks a new marketing campaign around promoting the cessation services available on campus will be rolling out across the Morningside campus.
That’s the summary I have.
Q: Can you speak about cessation programs for faculty and staff?
McNeil: Only in a limited way. Our service does not provide that to faculty and staff. However, as part of the process and the discussion, we certainly have looked at this, and I know members of the Senate have looked at this, as well. All of the health insurance programs available to Columbia employees do include some level of coverage for smoking cessation, or tobacco cessation, in general. In addition, the employee assistance program, or EAP, which is available to all employees, also provides support for tobacco cessation. Further, any employee who lives in the city can also access some of the cessation services that are available through the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. [Unclear] So here we will be talking about communication policies and strategies, and they’ve experienced at Barnard.
Kalliope Kyriakides: Good evening. My name is Kalliope Kyrakides. I am the current senator from Barnard. First I’d like to comment on the communications strategy of our task force’s new policy, and then say a few words about how Barnard’s smoking ban has played out for the past two years. From previous experience we’ve learned that one of the most important aspects of the implementation of this policy is its communication. In order to make sure that the policy is, in fact, effective, we must make it well known and understood. To set this new precedent of smoking regulation on campus, we have developed several ideas. First, the new policy would be immediately publicized through campus newspapers, both in print and online, as well as information posted on Columbia University’s website. A university-wide email, notifying the members of the community of the new act would also be helpful. Next, as Dr. Lee as stated, signage is key. We need signage to be clear and noticeable, indicating where smoking is prohibited. In addition, upon arrival of new students and employees to Columbia, a brochure explaining the smoking policy, as well as including information about some related health risks, would be distributed. Lastly, we would like to designate an actual day to campaigning, which would include tabling, flyering, and circulation of information pamphlets throughout the campus.
Now, almost two years ago Barnard’s campus implemented a full smoking ban. Though there was initial concern about enforcement, there seemed to be minimal issues. Signage is abundant, in obvious places, and the only receptacles available are outside the premises. In addition, the policy is clearly posted on the college’s website.
From what I have seen in my years at Barnard, there has been excellent cooperation. Being that the majority of Barnard students are nonsmokers, there is a large appreciation of the ban. It has effectively made a difference for life on campus. Although Columbia’s campus is slightly larger than Barnard’s, I believe that with the right approach and the right tactics, we can also obtain positive results.
O’Halloran: [Unclear] moving to a ban, or more restrictive aspects of it -- the notion of a safe haven is important; the notion of some of the labor issues around those types of things, for having safe havens, and people needing extra time to get to them, to smoke, as well as a coherent communication strategy, seem to be some of the important issues for discussion and debate.
So I would now like to open the floor, and I would ask that you define yourself, your name and your affiliation, when you’re speaking. Thank you.
Pat O’Reilly: My name is Pat O’Reilly. I’m employed as the Assistant Director of Facilities and Engineering at Lamont, the Lamont campus. I’m responsible for building and grounds maintenance, security, safety, custodial services, construction, cafeteria operations, day care -- basically everything we call physical plant at Lamont.
Our campus consists of 185 acres in Rockland County, including several acres that are actually in Bergen County, New Jersey. Our campus consists of about 20 buildings, totaling 400,000 square feet, very tiny compared to Morningside. Our buildings have been constructed in the manner of most suburban development, laid out with respect to topography -- the topographical features of the campus, clustered to protect [unclear], open space and wetlands, unlike the rectilinear grid system which drives development here in New York City.
Unlike Morningside, we did not have a campus center like the quadrangle and College Walk on campus. We operate about a mile of roadway between our front entrance and our back gate, which is kept secured. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Lamont, but I’d like you to consider that a complete smoking ban would require employees to travel about a half mile from most any building on campus, just to get to some off-campus location.
Full disclosure: I’m a smoker myself. I’m very sensitive that not only is the facility [unclear], but also to the concerns of smokers. I’m proud that I have successfully managed smokers on my campus, most of whom I know personally because I smoke with them. So they do not create the littering nuisance that you seem to be experiencing here on Morningside. In your PowerPoint, regarding the two-year evaluation of the current university smoking policy, you’ve got an illustrative map of my campus showing the 25 or 30 smoking receptacles that I’ve installed on campus, along with a few pictures of these things at building entrances. I’m happy to report there are no pictures of messy butt piles in that slide, because that’s not a problem on our campus.
My strategy of putting a self-extinguishing, fully enclosed receptacle at every building entrance works. These are not smoking stations. These are not where you congregate to smoke. It’s where you dispose of your butt before you go into a building. Your butt may not even be lit at that point, but it’s the proper way to get rid of your butt.
When placed conveniently and strategically, like waste and recycling containers, cigarette butts can be managed. Placing these things in the middle of a side-yard, or off a beaten path, or 20 or 30 feet away from your building is the surest way to ensure that they will neither be used nor maintained properly. From reading the information on your website, and from what I’ve heard tonight, you’ve had a task force spending two years evaluating the effect of a no-smoking-within-20-feet policy at Lamont. I can attest to the ineffectiveness of this policy because I was not aware of it myself; nor was anybody at Lamont. We were aware that there was a policy pertaining to the 20-foot rule at Morningside, and we were aware of a different policy at the Medical Center. There was a Senate member from Lamont on the task force, who never communicated with us that there was a policy for Lamont; that it was being violated or evaluated; and that a new policy to ban smoking at Lamont was even under consideration. There was no communication in any way -- a campus-wide email, which is typically used to address policy behavioral issues at Lamont. There was no communication with the director’s staff, on the director’s staff, or with any of our governance committees that would consider the impact of such a policy on our business -- such as our executive committee, the observatory management group, the campus management group, or our campus life committee -- all of which I serve on as an ex officio member, representing the director.
This is very uncharacteristic of our culture, and how policy is formulated at Lamont. Our processes are very open, considerate, democratic and egalitarian, always seeking the advice of a broad representation across all of our divisions and ranks, and attaining reasonable compromise where a consensus cannot be reached. I don’t want to lecture anybody on how to effect transformation, but we do a pretty good job up at Lamont.
I do understand the militating factors for the policy under consideration at Morningside, and I do not consider that policy unreasonable for a densely populated urban campus, where a smoker can accomplish a break with a quick walk curbside, if needed. However, the suburban setting, on a large, sparsely populated, environmentally sensitive campus such as Lamont -- I believe different considerations must be made to avoid unintended consequences such as lost productivity, littering, and even forest fire. The best organization to consider this issue and draft a practical policy for Lamont, that would respect the honorable goals of public health, underlying the policy under consideration by the Senate, would be the Lamont Campus Life Committee. I request that the new policy under consideration not include Lamont; I request that the Senate consider a separate resolution, requiring that a Lamont-specific policy be submitted for the Senate’s consideration, within a reasonable amount of time -- say six months. I would be willing to take on that responsibility, as our Senate member is no longer employed at Columbia University. [Unclear] was the chair of our Campus Life Committee.
I thank you for your consideration, and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that anybody might have on this matter, regarding Lamont.
O’Halloran: Okay. Thank you. We’ll speak with you about that directly.
Peter, did you wish to speak to these issues right now?
O’Halloran: No. Okay. Any additional comments. Yes?
Q: My name is Andrew “Grasso,” [phonetic] I’m a General Studies student. I’m also a smoker. I guess coming to this is my first time really being involved in the matter. It seems to me that the problem is the cigarette butts on the ground, and people are unhappy with the litter -- the way that it may look, or a part of it. That’s part of the issue. I think that rather than banning smoking on all of campus, or trying to push it out to the outside streets, there should be a more targeted solution, in that maybe a fine, or something along those lines, for people who do litter and throw their butts. Because when I smoke, I always put it in a trash can, and I always clean up after myself, in a sense. I’m not blowing smoke in anyone’s face, or really trying to solicit people to join me.
So I think that making smoking illegal, in a sense, on campus, would just be a huge inconvenience for students who do smoke, and choose not to quit. We would have to walk off campus, just for the sense where most of us are already, let’s say, cleaning up after ourselves.
Just two other points on what was said tonight. One was creating designated smoking areas. As a smoker, I would use them. I think that’s a fine idea. However, I don’t agree with the economic incentive program -- to charge people to use them. Because I feel like a lot of smokers, maybe myself included, depending on my mood, would not pay, and just smoke near them.
The last thing I guess I would say is that a few people have said signage is key. Again, as a smoker, I feel like I see No Smoking signs everywhere I go. I walk into a building and it says No Smoking. Inside the building it says, “No smoking in this elevator.” You go into the classroom, “No smoking in this classroom.” On behalf, I think, of a lot of sentient smokers, I can say that we get it: We should smoke outside, and not directly outside the buildings. Maybe an investment in more signs will not necessarily reap the results you think it will. Thank you.
O’Halloran: Thank you. Identify yourself, please.
Q: I am “Giovanni.” [Phonetic] I am [unclear]. I had three students write to me, saying they couldn’t make it tonight, but they sent me their comments. If you don’t mind, I can read them really fast, for about a page, total.
O’Halloran: We ask that you forward them to Tom, on the staff.
Giovanni: First, “I recently quit smoking, but I remain frustrated with the no-smoking-within-20-feet policy. It is not fair to students who do smoke. Schools [unclear] provide this policy. Smoking is an addiction with cravings. Students shouldn’t have to stand in the “wind” 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, and tend 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 will be respected by both smokers and nonsmokers. [Unclear], it’s unacceptable for students to be harassed by Columbia staff and faculty over smoking on the sidewalks outside the buildings. I’ve noticed one Columbia do this multiple times. Sidewalks are public property; anyone has the right to smoke on them. Any passersby have plenty of room to avoid the air of smokers.” This was “Chase Madden,” [phonetic] a first-year student.
Second: “I am not able to attend the town hall. However, I would like to express my opinion. As a leading urban university, Columbia is in place with modern and the most recent technologies, [unclear] leaders, challenging relevant to current development classes. To continue its image as a leading institution, Columbia should follow the twenty-first-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 [unclear] effort of reducing smoking, but also encourage healthy lifestyles for students, faculty, and guests. Smoke around campus affects nonsmokers, as well. For example, some of my friends who 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 nonsmokers, who have all rights to enjoy fresh air and choose the entrance they please, without putting their health in jeopardy. I fully encourage a smoke-free Columbia, for a healthy and prosperous Columbia community.” This was “Masha Covolenko Tias,” [phonetic] a first-year student.
Three: “I don’t have a problem with people smoking less than 20 feet from the buildings. I actually think it would be excessively punitive and stigmatizing to force them into little smoking pens, far away, especially when it’s cold outside.” [Unclear], second-year student, [Unclear]
In addition to this, I’d simply add -- I think I can speak on behalf of my [Unclear] colleagues, as well, that the task force, the Committee on External Relations [unclear], and the Senate be mindful of each campus when making [unclear] Morningside, and the complications that arise from each campus being outside the “quad” of the main campus. Thanks.
O’Halloran: Thank you. Any other comments? Questions? Yes.
Philip Genty: Phil Genty from the Law School, on the Senate. We’re coming up to Groundhog Day, and it makes one think of the movie, where one keeps living the same day over, and over, and over again, and I feel that no-smoking policy --
O’Halloran: I appreciate that. Yes.
Genty: I’ll just say a couple things. One is, on a large, urban, international campus, I think finding balance and accommodation among all different interest groups is very important. The 20-foot rule -- two years ago I was in the Senate, and it “was perfect.” I had some issues with it, but it struck me then and it strikes me now as a reasonable accommodation -- better signage, better enforcement -- but it’s fine. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: At this point, to be pushing for something more restrictive continues to strike me as a moral issue disguised as a public health issue, being pushed primarily by people who are just offended by the idea of smoking. What I hear in these meetings, over and over again, is that the people who would be most affected by a smoking ban -- the people who live on the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the students -- and -- we don’t talk so much about this, but the staff, the maintenance staff, the custodial staff, the security staff, who are here on the campus at night, all year around -- these are the people who would be affected by this, and I have just never heard any taste for pushing for a more restricted policy from the people who I think are most affected by it. If we’re talking about designated areas, that’s something worth talking about. If we’re talking about easily accessible, attractive areas, areas that are designed for convenience and not to stigmatize (which is, I think, what sometimes happens) -- I’ll share this feeling -- I would like to be done with these debates, because I think there will always be a group of people who are pushing for a total ban, who will keep bringing this back year after year, and who seek to impose their will on the rest of the community. And I oppose that.
O’Halloran: Thank you. Yes.
Q: Good evening. My name is “Mace Footing.” [Phonetic] I’m a General Studies student. I was a smoker. Not currently. I do enjoy the occasional cigarette, sometimes on campus -- which we all know is a great way to garner the respect and admiration of our peers. (That’s a joke.)
Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that the idea of monetization was brought up, and the idea of communicating expectations of kind of the reasonable way to smoke, and smokers accommodating the rest of the student population has been broached, as well. I think a great way to cover all those bases -- and this goes back to my experience working for the government -- and I hate to do it but, the smoking ban strikes me as a bureaucratic measure disguised as a public health measure, more than anything. In my experience, the best way to combat bureaucracy is with more powerful bureaucracy. On that note, maybe the idea of a smoking certificate card, where you go through like a sit-down, I don’t know, PowerPpoint presentation, for half an hour, and get berated with all the cessation policy things, and the right way to smoke, at the end of which you can perhaps pay for the card that you get, put it in your wallet, and then you can smoke. And upon being questioned whether or not you’ve been to the class, you can produce your smoking card. [Laughter] I’m not being sarcastic, by the way. I just feel like a lot of what’s going on is a lack of communication between the majority of the people who would be affected by this, and the actual people who want to implement a smoking ban. I think the way to bridge that gap is to have some kind of targeted lesson plan or something like that. That’s it.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. I think knowledge about the impact, the public health impact, is something that I think is important to get out there. I know Michael’s been working on that with the students. Yes?
Q: Hi. Melissa Metz. I represent off-campus buildings. I work on 115th Street, in the Watson Hall building, next to a school. Some well-meaning facilities person has placed a sign saying, “There’s no smoking within 20 feet of this building.” I don’t think Columbia owns the sidewalk; I don’t think they have the right to tell people what happens on it. If, in fact, someone walked 20 feet away from my building, they’d be standing in front of a school, a K-8 school, next door.
I agree with those who say what we need is better communication. Whether it’s 20 feet, 20 yards, or the whole campus, we need to know what the policy is, and enforcing, or at least directing, the right policy.
O’Halloran: Thank you.
Q: My name is Bradley [Unclear]. I’m a senior at Columbia College [unclear]. I represent myself. I hate smoking. I think it’s despicable and disgusting. People have the right to smoke. That’s fine. Smoking killed my aunt, and according to the Centers for Disease Control it kills more than 300,000 Americans a year. That being said, I think that the campus and this university have enough smoking regulations. I think we have done all that we can practically do to discourage our students, and our faculty, and our staff from smoking. We have a 20-foot smoking ban within the entrance or exit of any campus building. Now you can go outside Butler Library, at any hour of the day, and there will be people smoking there. There are signs clearly posted. The idea was floated by an economist (I’m sorry, I don’t know your name. I got here a little bit late), but the idea of charging money to use a special, designated smoking facility? No. How exactly would we go about enforcing that? Are you going to fine smokers who aren’t smoking in -- ? How are you going to enforce that fine? Are you going to take it out of people’s salaries? [Unclear]
O’Halloran: It was a statement about incentivization. [Cross talk]
Bradley: It was a strictly theoretical statement?
O’Halloran: Correct. It was a theoretical statement. So, that, basically a way for people to understand, or to incentivize the cost or the externalities that they are imposing on the rest. That’s the language.
Bradley: Right. I took Principles of Economics when I was a freshman, and I’m very familiar and very well versed in --
O’Halloran: He was implying within a context [cross talk]. Exactly.
Bradley: But in the classroom, the idea of economic incentivization is one thing; in reality, it’s something entirely different. Practically enforcing any further smoking regulation I don’t think is a realistic thing. Smokers who really want to smoke are going to smoke. How are you going to enforce that? Is security going to go after people? Are you going to start banning people from campus? Are students going to be expelled for smoking? Are you really going to go that far, to push this agenda? Now this is coming from someone who despises smoking. I think smoking is a huge public health problem.
Now I’ve criticized the proposals of the Senate a lot, and I don’t think it’s fair to criticize without first offering an alternative. The alternative I’m going to offer -- it’s a small, simple thing. You’re going about addressing this problem in a really roundabout way. There are smokers. Smoking is a public health problem. How do we get people to smoke less? We put them in a box, and flush them down the toilet. You can’t do that. I would encourage the Senate to pursue a more aggressive smoking prevention, cessation, and education program. In addition to putting signs informing students, faculty, and staff members about the university smoking policy, I would encourage the Senate to resolve to put signs for, say, a smoking hotline: “Go to this website, if you want to quit smoking.” And not just your standard, regular, everyday, boring signs, but signs that have a kick; signs that people are going to read; signs that, “Oh, that’s kind of funny. That’s interesting. Maybe I should go to this website.” A little bit of advertising flair, something entertaining. I think a practical approach, more on the grounds of something I’ve just described, is something that’s much more worthwhile pursuing than the current proposal. And that’s all I have to say.
O’Halloran: Okay. Thank you. I think we would agree with you that prevention is absolutely important, as well as signage of information making sure. So that should definitely be, independent of any policy, as you said, a set of agendas that we should push. So thank you very much.
Q: Hello. My name is Rocky. I’m an undergrad. I’m a nonsmoker, but I did smoke on campus for a few months. I don’t find smoking despicable or disgusting. I understand why people do it, but I am also aware of the health effects of smoking. I think most students on campus would agree that although there aren’t designated smoking space for students on campus to smoke, there are spaces for students to congregate, a space outside of Butler, and that brings up the issue of enforcement. Any kind of [unclear] buildings. I think the fact that there have been questions of enforcement for the 20-foot rule kind of discredits the university in the eyes of the students who do smoke, and kind of lets the students know that no one is going to check on them if they’re not following the rule.
So I think a ban of smoking on campus would be the easiest to enforce, if it’s just not allowed, period, no measuring of feet or anything. It would be the easiest to maintain. It is strict, but I think it would discourage use the most. There wouldn’t be congregating of students on campus, in public spaces. So I’m for the ban.
O’Halloran: Okay. Thank you very much. Yes.
Q: I’m Samuel Seward. I’m the AVP of Columbia Health, and I have responsibilities on this campus and the Medical Center campus. I go up to Lamont every year to give the flu shot to all the staff, like Patrick, who are smart enough to get it.
Just a couple comments. Michael had mentioned that, over the past several years, with the transformation of our tobacco-cessation program, we have seen over 1,100 students interested in talking about quitting smoking. The first thing I would say is that I would hazard the guess that a very small number of those students would tell us that the reason they decided to quit smoking is because of the 20-foot rule. My experience with smokers, as a general internist and a general pediatrician, is that most smokers that I’ve met in my life are thinking about quitting, and have often tried to quit. The national data would suggest numerous times. The challenge, then, is to find ways to support them, so they finally quit once and for all, if it’s their decision to do so.
I’m of the school that says that despite the New York City public health data -- which I think is quite compelling, around the smoking ban in this city, in terms of restaurants and bars and what have you. I think it’s quite compelling data. But I’m really in the school that says that if your desire is to support someone in a healthy lifestyle, the way to do that best is to communicate with them, and support them as they go through that process, rather than enforcing rules that kind of lead them down a path. I think there are people more knowledgeable than me, who would adamantly disagree with me -- including the mayor of the city -- but that’s my view.
But the thing I would just return to again -- 1,028, I think, was the number that Michael shared. That’s a 10,000% increase over what we used to see, with our old program. We used to see a handful of students a year. Again, I think that increase is really a reflection of a program that meets students where they’re at, in terms of their relationship to smoking, and probably has very little to do with the 20-foot rule -- though I’m very much in support of the 20-foot rule, and I thought it was the right way to go when the Senate made that decision.
O’Halloran: Okay. Thank you. Yes?
Alexandria Wise: Hi. My name is Alexandria Wise. I’m a postdoctoral fellow on the medical campus. I’m sort of representing that faction. I just wanted to sort of point out some of the issues that we have on the medical campus, in the sense that we have a variety of individuals who come and use the facility. Obviously, Presbyterian Hospital is one of the best hospitals in New York City; as a result, you get families, relatives, workers, who just come and visit the hospital, and, unfortunately, smoke around that area. There are signs up in that area, but they’re kind of inadequate. I actually went around and started taking photos of where smoking signs are just not present at all. There is also the issue of the food carts that are right on 168th Street, that people just loiter around. They buy a coffee, they just stand around there. The food carts kind of protect them from the wind. So I think there is some policy that’s missing on that campus, that maybe needs to be addressed and enforced.
I should also mention that the officers, or the patrol that do come around, can maybe also just remind people as well as issues -- as this being an issue on this campus.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Did you have questions? Comments?
[Unclear] has been raised. I wonder -- [Unclear], did you have any comments to that, on the enforcement issues? Not to put you on the spot?
X: Nothing significant, other than to say that the food carts are on a public sidewalk. I don’t want to echo the “woman” who said [unclear], but no one at Columbia has any particular jurisdiction for anything, other than the wonderful power of persuasion that we all seem to enjoy here tonight, to encourage people in a positive way, to be more healthy. So that’s basically the way it works on public streets in New York City -- or anywhere else in America.
O’Halloran: Okay. Thank you. And Kathleen -- did you have any issues around the environmental and safety -- ?
Kathleen Crowley: I’m responsible for environmental health and safety on all of our campuses, including Morningside, the Medical Center, and Lamont. One of the issues with the smoking that hasn’t been brought up has to do with the smoke from the smokers, wherever the smoking, the wafting into buildings. My department gets some of those calls from faculty, staff, and students who are being impacted by unwanted smoke, because of smokers smoking, whether it’s the 20 feet, or in the perimeter of the area. I think the arguments on both sides are very noteworthy. I see that we’ve made tremendous progress. I’ve been at the university and hospital for over 25 years, and came at a time when you could smoke in your office or in your dorm. So I think we’re definitely moving in the right direction; implementing some restrictions is the right way. I should confess that I also have a background in public health and in medicine, so I do have strong feelings about the facts. But I do appreciate that this is a campus of liberal learning.
The successes at the medical center I think were noted by the postdoc. It needs to be sustained. So a communications strategy, offering the alternatives for tobacco of all means -- not just smoking, but chewing -- is very important. But you need a sustainable communication strategy, so signage can get [unclear], and people can forget that the power of positive persuasion -- but the signage I do find is helpful, as someone who can walk along. If we have visitors or patients who don’t realize we’re a smoke-free campus, we can politely point out, “Please understand -- we’re smoke-free, indoors and out, for patients, faculty, staff, and students.”
So if you have any questions, feel free. I’m available and an officer of the university. KC298 is my email.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Any other comments or questions? Yes.
Q: I just want to make a point about the way that a ban may reflect the greater values of Columbia as a community. The idea that the 20-foot rule, or some kind of compromise, would be difficult to enforce, and that the total ban would be the easiest way from the lens of enforcement -- I think we, in general, but more specifically on campus, need to ask ourselves whether or not the path of least resistance is, in fact, the best path; and, whether or not there needs to be some kind of compromise for the sake of -- I mean, from the public health perspective, I think most smokers who smoke know that, in this day and age, it’s not good for you. But it’s a personal decision. But as a community, we need to make the decision whether or not that’s a personal decision, or a decision that should be made by consensus. So, just for the record, I’m against the ban.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Peter?
Peter Michaelides: I just wanted to make a comment here. I don’t know if everybody knows this, but outside the campus, the majority of the buildings around the campus are owned by Columbia University, and are residential buildings. So we have to make sure that we’re not just displacing the smokers and putting them in front of the residential buildings. It’s just something that everybody should know. We own most of the buildings on Amsterdam, 114th Street, and all around campus. Just something to consider.
O’Halloran: Thank you. Yes?
Katharine Celentano: My name is Katharine Celentano. I am a junior at the School of General Studies. I’m also a legislative assistant to the University Senate, and I’m on the executive board of Columbia University Students [Unclear] Drug Policy, but I speak only in my capacity as myself, not with anything I just mentioned.
I was at the last town meeting, and I’ve been following this for a while. I’m a former smoker. I’m 26; I smoked from about age 18 to 21. I am proud to have quit, and as I said at the last town hall -- and I won’t rehash it all -- but during that period of my life, it wouldn’t have made me to quit right away. Because there were a complex number of factors that were going on. I was working with doctors, and I had doctors tell me, “Look, you’ve got a lot going on; quitting smoking right now is not your priority.” I did ultimately quit, and I think we need to look at the constellation of things that are going on for students, and using blunt force isn’t constructive.
First of all, I want to applaud the cessation efforts that have been going on. The statistics are fantastic. [Unclear] Everything is just great -- health services here. I’d also like to applaud the general task force here. Having followed this for a while, there is this general standstill that’s been going on between people who are for a complete ban, and people who want the 20-foot rule, who take a very lax approach to it. And there has been a lot of discussion, and a lot of it has been very repetitive and perhaps excessive, but I’m pleased to see that the proposal that has come forth is not a ban, and that community concerns have been thoughtfully integrated. I’m happy to see the [unclear] reduction -- the university smoking reduction. I think that that “harm reduction” is a very sensible approach to dealing with complex situations. And I think that, overall, the only thing I don’t like that’s happening is the [unclear], but I understand now that that was more of a thought experiment.
So I’m just really excited to see this [unclear], and I hope we can move forward. I guess the only thing I would add -- just because I think it needs to be noted when we have this discussion, and has been said before but hasn’t been said tonight -- and I don’t even know how easy this is for people to understand, who aren’t smokers -- but for some of us, maybe not for all of us, there is a psychological [unclear] that is associated with the marginalization of how people react to you, and make a prejudgment about something that, yes, you are choosing to do, but it’s complicated. I think it’s important, as a campus, that we don’t communicate rejection, we communicate support. We support people who have asthma, we support people who don’t have heart problems but who just don’t like smoke, and we support people who are smoking for whatever reason. I think it’s important to look at that, and also that people make all sorts of unhealthy decisions. It’s interesting that when there is a specific, exterior substance involved it becomes much easier to classify it and sort of “point that up.”
But, again, I would just like to thank everybody very much, for [unclear].
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Yes, José?
José Robledo: Hi. I’m José Robledo, former senator of the School of General Studies, and, like Professor Genty, this is Groundhog Day.
Everything that has been brought up here tonight has been brought up in some way or another in the last two or three years, depending on how far we want to go back. I think the toughest part about a lot of this is that there are a lot of new faces here, and they don’t know the [unclear] of the issue. One, like the idea that dumping our smoke into the community -- that’s been addressed. The fact that smoke wafts up to the office buildings. That’s been addressed. The fact that we want public safety -- chasing smokers instead of making sure that dorm rooms don’t get vandalized. That’s been addressed. The one thing I’m wondering about with town hall is -- is the purpose of this town hall to communicate the progress that the committee has made, ending with the 20-foot ban to smoking reduction -- is this to communicate change in language, or is this to communicate -- a temperature check on how the community is feeling? Because, like Professor Genty said earlier, it doesn’t feel like the community has changed. There are folks who don’t want it, there are folks who do, and then there are folks who are going, “Well, I’m going to go either way.” So it’s a question for the task force.
O’Halloran: So in the 2010 resolution, there was a two-year review that was part of it. The task force was established to conduct that two-year review, to see about the assessment of issues around enforcement, signage, and how it’s been rolled out. That has been the process so far. From that there were a series of recommendations, as Professor Lee described, of which one recommendation was to review additional restrictions and, again, increasing the cessation programs, as well as enhancing the communication programs. And this town hall meeting is to (1) solicit feedback from the community on how the 20-foot ban has been working, in their opinion [unclear], and also to get input into the potential for any [unclear] additional rules around the reduction of smoking on campus.
X: I believe that last one was also a recommendation to have Jeff Scott, of Student Services, also report on the rollout from two years ago, that [unclear] rolled out [unclear].
O’Halloran: You mean, we have folks here who report to Jeff who are actually, I guess, his “delegees,” or his “designees” in this capacity. Okay. Thank you. Additional comments? Did you want to speak directly [unclear]?
X: [Unclear] There is an element to the dissemination of messages at Columbia that is inherently complex, and I think we are well aware of this, and how messages move around the institution. The decision was made at the time of the change to the “consistent” distance rule that information would be disseminated through the individual academic schools and colleges. So the messaging was developed, signage was developed, and it was provided to each of the schools and colleges at the Morningside campus and the folks at Lamont. The dissemination of it beyond that, and the responsibility for that, rested with the individual schools and colleges. The mechanisms were different in some places. Based on the reports that I received from folks involved in the process, some schools sent out emails. Building managers and department managers were provided the links to download the temporary signs, prior to the installation of more permanent signage. Some folks reported that they never heard about it. A couple of folks, when challenged to search their email box, could find the message; they just hadn’t read it.
So there are a lot of different reports on how the message did or did not reach the population, and whether or not it was in the right mechanism. But the plan, as put forward, did in fact happen through the levels responsible, through [unclear].
O’Halloran: Okay. Thank you. Who was the other hand? Yes.
Andrew Wiseman: Hi. I’m Andrew Wiseman. I’m in the School of Arts and Sciences, and Engineering. First of all, I just want to say that I’m definitely for the ban, the complete ban. I do appreciate that there are issues on individual campuses, like Lamont and the Medical School, and I can’t really speak to those because I’m not there, and I don’t care as much, to be honest. I think it’s important, I’m just saying that it doesn’t personally affect me.
But something I do want to say is that it’s a little bit about the butts, the cigarette butts on campus. The one thing it’s not about, in my opinion -- I don’t mean to sound callous -- but to me the issue is not about the people who currently smoke. I, and I’m sure many other people, understand that they make their choice to smoke, and they have struggles in their programs for them to reach out to, but the one thing I think this is about -- not so much the butts or the smokers but it’s about the secondhand smoke. It’s a proven, scientific health risk for people who have to walk through any degree of smoke. The 20-foot ban, or even making designated smoking areas -- I know there are plenty of smokers. I know a few who are very respectful about where their smoke goes. They certainly don’t try to blow their smoke in anyone’s face, but they can’t control the wind. One hundred percent of the time there are people who don’t want to smell the smoke, but who will smell it because of the wind, not because of smokers who are even being considerate about their smoking.
So I do think a complete ban would be easier to enforce. I don’t think it’s the easy way out, it’s the only way to resolve this secondhand smoke problem. I agree with the meetings. I was at the last town hall meeting. I think we should be done with it, and I think if we banned smoking completely, we would find that people were happier and we wouldn’t have any more meetings.
O’Halloran: Thank you. “Hear, hear on the meetings.” On what he said! Okay. Yes.
Q: I’d just like to follow up on that. I’d like to have a different question of the population, and that’s students who used to smoke but don’t anymore. I think seeing students on campus, smoking, is definitely [unclear] for them, and can undermine the work of medical services, Columbia Health, and the tobacco-cessation programs that do exist, and all the work they go through to get to that point of not smoking. So I’m for the ban.
O’Halloran: Great. Yes?
Q: Just in reply to the last two commenters -- in the event that smoking is pushed off campus, myself, as a smoker, and probably others, will go, immediately, off campus and smoke there. So it really wouldn’t solve the problem of seeing people smoke, or secondhand smoke, when they enter and exit the university grounds.
O’Halloran: So, obviously, that’s an issue, a fundamental issue, that would have to be addressed. I agree with that. Yes?
Q: Hello. My name is “Connor Skelby,” [phonetic] I’m a junior at Columbia College. It seems to that the issue isn’t so much whether smoking is harmful (which it is), or whether secondhand smoke is harmful (which it is), or whether cigarette butts are an eyesore (which they are). It’s more about what end result we will have. Pragmatically, it seems that the removal of the receptacles by Butler only led to more cigarette butts. So the issue isn’t will people smoke on campus or not? It’s will people smoke on campus and throw them in receptacles, or will they leave them on the ground and ignore the ban, as they’ve flouted the 20-foot rule.
O’Halloran: So, would a ban eliminate that issue completely, or does the 20-foot role, given the position of the receptacles, sort of enhancing? Yes. That’s correct. That’s where we are. Those were the recommendations, and that’s what the task force went around and evaluated.
Additional comments or concerns? Yes.
Q: Hi. I’m “Andy Bokelli.” [Phonetic] I’m a data manager and notary here at the university. I want to vote, again, for this gentleman over here, saying that a total ban is probably the way to go. I think we should keep uppermost in our minds that not only is this university attended by students from all over the world, this is also a workplace. The secondhand smoke issue is not just what smokers might derisively think of as someone else contracting cancer from your smoking or something like that; there are a lot of other effects. I have three eye conditions. One is called GPC -- giant papillary conjunctivitis -- and if I’m walking behind you, as you’re trailing your cigarette, down by the side of your thigh, as you’re going from one building to the next to the next, you’re going to trigger a disgusting eye condition to me, that’s going to ruin my vision for the rest of the day. That’s my workplace being ruined. Why should I have to submit to that? We’re not asking you to change your lives or quit smoking; we’re asking you to refrain from smoking in a very, very tiny geographical area. I think we should take advantage of critical mass, at this point in history, to take advantage of the huge groundswell that supports a total ban of smoking in workplaces, in schools. It’s a health issue, it’s not a liberty issue. Thank you.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Yes, Tom.
Tom Mathewson: My name is Tom Mathewson. I’m the manager of the University Senate. As a staff person, I have the position to express on these issues, but my hope is to have as full a Senate record as possible, and as much guidance for Senate committees as possible. I just want to note quickly that -- I’ve been listening to these debates for years, also, and what is a little different, significantly different, about the proposal of the task force is the idea of designated smoking areas. This has come up in the Senate before. There have been objections, and there may be arguments to defend the idea, but I think it would be helpful to hear some of them tonight, if we can. Because the committee -- the task force wants your guidance on this idea that they’re presenting. [Unclear] offered, cogently, some objections to the idea [unclear]. It would be helpful to have this on the record.
Michael McNeil: Okay. And I did. I was asked, very specifically, as an individual member of the campus community, to respond to the idea -- and I have it in front of me, in case I was asked.
O’Halloran: So, just to be clear, you are responding as an individual member, to the statement about designated smoking areas. Is that correct?
McNeil: Correct. As an employee of Columbia.
I cannot, however, separate two additional factors that I think influenced my remarks. One, I am a national expert on tobacco issues in higher education, and have been recognized a number of times for that, so I have very strong feelings, and have done a lot of work in this area. Two, I’ve been trained at the Mayo Clinic in treating nicotine dependence and tobacco cessation. I will say that I love smokers. They’re amazing people. They’re inherently social, and they have wonderful stories. That being said, with regard to designated smoking areas, I offer the following points for consideration.
Given the geography of our campus, there are few locations that would be sufficient to accommodate the potential need, that won’t lead to significant complaints from other members of the community. There will probably be greater disagreement over both quantity and placement of the areas than there will be about whether or not we should consider the areas. Part of what I was asked to respond to is the idea that some of these areas may be located indoors, and to protect the health and well-being of people in those, if there were indoor areas, we would need separate entry and exit ways, and completely independent ventilation systems, both of which would introduce significant initial costs, not to mention the ongoing maintenance costs. We would also need to confer with the Office of General Counsel what indoor areas would be allowed, because they are likely prohibited under current state law, and certainly are prohibited under current university policy.
If outdoor, those who would use these areas are likely to request these locations be sheltered. Many may not be aware that there are policy requirements regarding the aesthetic and the look of all construction on campus, and they would need to be designed to match the campus architecture, if they were to be covered -- again introducing additional costs. We need to determine who would pay for these additional costs, not only for the installation, but the ongoing maintenance. What about the cleanup, if facilities were to get on board with the plan, before the decision is made to implement designated areas?
I ask the question because I don’t have an answer to it: How will the enforcement of the designated areas differ in any substantial way from the current 20-feet-from-all-buildings policy? I will note that most campuses that have made this decision to go to designated areas have further chosen to become smoke-free campus, usually within two years, because the designated areas did not solve the concerns that they were proposed to address. All major policy guidelines, from all areas that have put them out, quite honestly, on this issue, have suggested tobacco-free campuses, not just smoke-free campuses, and have specifically said that designated smoking areas do not meet that need.
My last piece, which is where the health-professional part of me comes out -- the Senate, along with many other areas of the institution, has had significant discussions around benefits/cost, specifically around health care costs. If we were to go the route of designated smoking areas, we are, in fact, endorsing and condoning a noted, harmful health behavior that will continue to put a drain on the health care system, and it may not be intentional, but there will be a subsequent, continuing cost there that we should at least be aware of, if that’s the decision we choose to make as an institution.
I will say, switching gears just briefly, to the person who chaired the previous work group on this issue -- this was considered. I will tell you that that two-year process that led to the proposal that the Senate later adopted, in every mechanism of feedback, more than half of our respondents supported a smoke-free campus. The [unclear] did not recommend that. We felt that a compromise of 20 feet was the best course of action for the university at that time. I think we have an opportunity to revisit that, and say, “Is that the right, continuing decision? Is a smoke-free campus the right way to go?” I’m not sure I know the answer to that. I am but one member of this broad university community. I do, however, firmly believe that designated areas are not the right direction for Columbia at this time.
O’Flaherty: Can I respond to that? I’m just “learning” here. But let me just make a few comments about designated areas. [Unclear] we have designated areas already, so why do you say designated areas aren’t the way to go? “There are a number of” designated areas; it just happens that those designated areas are defined [unclear] -- when we’re talking about designated areas as the current policy. [Unclear] it would be impossible to [unclear].
A few locations that would satisfy that -- that could be. When you talk about [unclear] locations, [unclear] cleanup enforcement [unclear] -- have to deal with those problems. Enforcement is going to be an issue in any policy whatsoever. Enforcement is a great problem with a ban; enforcement is a great problem [unclear]; enforcement is a problem with a sophisticated designation of areas. Is it possible that a few locations would meet all our requirements? Yes. But let’s write down our requirements. Let’s, as a community, discuss what those requirements are. I think we have different ideas about what those requirements are. And if we can’t come to an agreement, we can’t come to an agreement [unclear] -- but let’s try.
Is there great disagreement? Yes, there’s great disagreement. But let me point out that this is a productive kind of disagreement. You don’t have these two great opposing, general principles weighing on each other, in trying to decide the fate of the [unclear], as we have the discussion here. You’re having a simple discussion of should it be here or should it be there; should it be this-many feet or should it be that-many feet? That’s a discussion that is a productive discussion, it’s not “clash of civilizations.” That’s the kind of discussion I like. [Unclear]. If there are areas you have to discuss about it, you can have more discussions about it. [Unclear] Maybe we can, maybe we can’t. But let’s have a discussion where the concerns that everybody in this room are being discussed on a [unclear] level, on a level where something can actually happen, rather than [unclear]. Are we endorsing and condoning the activity? Yes, we’re endorsing and condoning the activity. The 20-foot rule endorses and condones the activity. We condone activities all the time that we think are horrible. [Unclear] is a terrible idea.
People want to smoke. What we’re deciding, really, is whether we’re going to smoke -- if we’re talking about designated areas versus a 20-foot rule, [unclear] we’re deciding whether we’re going to smoke on the sidewalk or smoke in an area that we’ve decided is a better place for them to smoke than on the sidewalk. You can’t tell me, off the top of your head, that the sidewalk is really the place where everybody ought to smoke. That’s what we’re really discussing.
Similarly, on the 20-foot ban, I think the 20-foot ban doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think it makes sense not to have people smoking near the entrances. But I also think it makes a hell of a lot of sense to not have people smoking on the South Lawn, where kids are playing. So I think -- and there are many ways we can do it, and I would like to have the [unclear] of doing it be devoted to [unclear] discussions about should you be smoking here, or should you be smoking there, rather than the meaning of life. Thanks you.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Actually, I appreciate [unclear], because we have spent significant time thinking about the feasibility of this, and what would be appropriate. We may find a few locations that meet those criteria, or we may not. I think that that shouldn’t prevent us from considering the current policy. I think that’s the path we’re going down.
Additional questions or concerns?
Q: Yes. I’d like to do an exercise in game theory.
O’Halloran: Game theory. Excellent. Let’s go. Preferences? Strategies? Go ahead.
Q: So, first, the assumptions. The assumptions are that we have a total smoking ban in effect, with no designated smoking areas. That’s what it seems like the prevailing direction of the discussion is leaning toward right now. So that’s your assumption. So option number one is, let’s say it’s completely effective, in our hypothetical magical world. So our campus no longer has smokers, but the problem with smokers does not disappear. Smokers still have to go somewhere to smoke, so where are they going to go to smoke? They’re all going to go to the nearest street.
Now they’re not going to go any further than they have to walk, so that means, on Columbia’s campus, you’re going to have people at the gates, smokers, congregating en masse at the gates of Columbia’s campus. So when the packs of tourists come out of the bus, or from the subway, to visit Columbia University’s campus, the first thing they’re going to see is 50 people smoking cigarettes. This will be true at every single entrance to Columbia University’s Morningside campus.
Now this is, of course, in a hypothetical world, where our plan is 100% successful. Now let’s go to Option #2. Let’s say that enforcement doesn’t work. We put signs everywhere. We have a smoking ban. We communicate it with everyone. Everyone knows about it, but smokers choose to smoke when they can smoke, because they don’t have incentive, any real incentive, to follow the rules. So what are we really trying to accomplish here? I mean, is this really a productive use of our valuable discussion time, or our great intellectual resources? We know a lot of very smart people in this room, spending a lot of time discussing this.
The point I’m trying to bring up here is that there are more intelligent ways to go about -- first of all, if you want to address smoking, let’s think of a more intelligent way to address smoking. Let’s go after the causes of smoking. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I think it’s more realistic and more beneficial than this.
Finally, is smoking an issue that -- is it the biggest issue that this campus cares about? Should we really be dragging this discussion on for years? And this is coming from someone, by the way (I’ve already mentioned it, but I’ll mention it again) who hates smoking. I hate smoking. I think it’s disgusting. I just don’t think this is a realistic or productive discussion.
That’s all I have to say. Thank you.
O’Halloran: Thank you very much. Additional comments or questions? No? Any additional that staff members would like to add at this time? No? All right.
Well, I want to thank everyone for coming out. I very much appreciate your input. If you have any comments or questions, please make sure you email the senate staff -- Tom Mathewson at [unclear] at Columbia.edu. And we very much appreciate your input.
Have a good evening.
[End of discussion]