September 25, 2017

Faculty, students debate ban on campus smoking

Associate professor of math and computer science Larry Granda sits at a desk in his office and pulls out a pouch of Original Blend American Spirit tobacco and some rolling paper. He begins rolling a cigarette for later use.

Math professor Larry Granda smokes a hand-rolled cigarette / Photo by Andrew McMunn

Math professor Larry Granda smokes a hand-rolled cigarette / Photo by Andrew McMunn

Granda read the new no-smoking policy proposal released by Webster University’s Student Government Association (SGA) last week.

“As a smoker, I want to jump up and down and say ‘no, you can’t do this, it’s discriminatory,’ but at the same time, I don’t know if that’s really the case,” Granda said. “That’s probably more of a knee jerk, emotional reaction.”

A committee formed by SGA last year took on the task of creating a new smoking policy for the Webster Groves campus. SGA released the policy proposal via email sent to webster.edu email addresses April 6.

The proposed policy prohibits the use of tobacco and tobacco derived from or containing products, including but not limited to “cigarettes… electronic cigarettes and vape pens, cigars and cigarillos, hookah smoked products, pipes and oral tobacco… and nasal tobacco.” It also includes any products intended to mimic tobacco.

Granda said he understands the motives for the new restrictions, but that it would not be effective in keeping people from smoking.

“There would become unofficial smoking areas,” Granda said. “It’s gonna become what we had in high school, when it was lunch time and everyone would leave campus and go across the street to smoke.”

Committee chairperson and SGA president Caroline Wiley said the committee started as an initiative within SGA. They brought forth the proposal to Dean of Students Ted Hoef, who then brought it up to administration. The committee then met with the Wellness Committee, Human Resources, Webster Staff Alliance and Faculty Senate. Wiley said they wanted to make sure everyone was part of the process.

Wiley said other St. Louis colleges had already enacted smoking policies similar to the one proposed by SGA. She also said the motive for this new policy stemmed from SGA wanting to promote a healthier campus environment.

“I think it’s important for us at Webster to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our community members,” Wiley said.

Granda said he understands the promotion of a healthier lifestyle but argues that other things on campus could be considered just as unhealthy.

“If this is really being done out of health concerns, maybe we should get rid of that fried chicken place at the UC, because that’s not healthy,” Granda said. “Or limit the size of sodas that are sold because that’s not good for you either.”

Wiley said the committee sent the proposal and a survey to collect feedback to everyone in the Webster community, from full time and adjunct faculty, to staff and students to the Repertory Theatre. 

“The purpose of the survey was to get input from absolutely everyone that may be affected,” Wiley said. 

The policy model is similar to the policies of other local schools including Saint Louis University, Washington University and Fontbonne University.

The policy is expected to undergo revision starting August 15.

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  • Vinny Gracchus

    Reject smoking bans and stop the persecution of smokers.