With the arrival of October today, everyone is getting ready for the colder Maine weather. While everyone will brace against the cold, one group of students stands to suffer more: smokers.

According to the Student Handbook, "In September 2002, the College adopted a policy that does not permit indoor smoking on College property, including residence halls and office buildings...on athletic grounds, in College vehicles, or within fifty feet of building entrances."

While Maine state law only requires people to be 20 feet away from building entrances, Bowdoin requires a 50 foot distance, so as to prevent smoke from entering any buildings.

In a recent Orient survey of 377 students, 68 percent polled said that the College is only "accommodating" in its actions directed towards supporting those who wish to smoke, while 20 percent marked "not accommodating—it is hard to find places to smoke at Bowdoin."

When asked about how accommodating the College is, Director of Health Services Sandra Hayes said, "We don't want to be, from a health perspective."

Emphasizing that regulations regarding smoking are not meant to "penalize smokers," Hayes said that they were "put into place for the health of all students."

A note in the Student Handbook echoes Hayes's comment: "second-hand smoke is also dangerous, and is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country."

In the survey, 64 percent of responders said that smoking was generally "discouraged and looked down upon by students." One student wrote, "As much as I believe [that] an individual has the right to do what they want with his body, I don't think their right should interfere with another individual's right to their own health. The college has to make sure their policies protect those with asthma and other related health problems."

Another student commented, "I think Bowdoin is a rather health-conscious school, with many athletes. This in effect leads to a social stigma about smoking, and overall I don't think that many students smoke."

According to Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall, the number of first years indicating that they smoke on housing forms has risen by thirteen people since 2006. While the number has risen, Lisa commented that it has "increased slowly."

"Four years ago there were 26 students in the incoming class who indicated [that they smoked] on our sliding scale...only four were above a '2'," she said. A "2" signifies an occasional smoker.

"[Smoking is] definitely something that is on our radar screens, but it's not a prominent part of student life," said Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon.

Sixty-three percent of survey participants, given the choice between "a lot," "some," and "not many," answered that they feel only "some" students smoke on campus.

"I haven't seen that many [people smoking]...it doesn't seem overwhelming," Paige Gribb '14 said. "I would say I don't think it's a big part of campus culture. I notice it from time to time but don't think that much about it."

However, one student wrote, "[Smoking] seems to have increased this semester as opposed to this time last fall."

Currently, there are numerous cigarette receptacles located around campus. Although they promote a cleaner campus, Director of Human Resources Tama Spoerri said that their locations near building entrances often lead to smoking within the 50 foot limit. She said that the College is continuing to look for other, more effective ways to dispose of cigarettes.

Seventy-two percent of survey participants said that they were not familiar with the Handbook's regulations regarding smoking etiquette.Fourty-four percent of respondents also said they felt that "the tampering or disabling of smoke detectors and other fire safety devices" is an "ongoing occurrence" in the college residences.

Associate Director of Facilities Operations Jeff Tuttle said that such activity is not happening "as much as it used to" but that "we still find smoke detectors damaged."

While this is an occurrence at Bowdoin, a few students mentioned in personal interviews and in the survey that tampering with detectors is not normally associated with cigarettes, but with marijuana.

Tuttle explained that if an alarm is "unhooked or defeated," a trouble alarm is sent and identified. "And then the student is subject to a fine," he said. "Our concern is that, if they do, that they not only put themselves at risk, but they put the others around them at risk."

"Smokers are not bad people. We can't demonize them," said Spoerri. "You have to have respect on both ends."

One smoker expressed a desire for such respect in the survey: "I don't blow smoke in your face, so don't pollute my air with your ignorant platitudes and information. I already know about how bad smoking is."

Ninety-one percent of students in the survey also claimed to be not aware of the Health Center's support services for those wishing to quit.

Hayes expressed her desire for all students to know about these resources. "It's really hard. I don't pretend...it's really hard to have an addiction to break," she said.

The Health Center provides free services for any student who wants to try to quit. Bowdoin also partners with the organization Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine, which offers free nicotine patches to students, among other things.

In addition to free support services for students, the College also offers the same benefits for its employees.

Spoerri explained that Human Resources also partners with Midcoast Hospital for its smoking cessation programs. "We've had a number of people successfully quit," she said. "In one class, we had 11 people who quit smoking."

"[Students are] not restricted to going through [cessation programs] once," Spoerri continued. "We're here to support them through the multiple times."

Members of the Bowdoin community can read more information about the smoking policy and cessation support services in both the Student and Employee Handbooks.