After a year and a half of transition, Colby has officially gone entirely tobacco free.
Last year represented the first step of Colby’s transition to a smoke-free campus. During the 2012-2013 academic year, students and faculty were still permitted to light up in any of three designated smoking areas. However, as of October 1, the use of tobacco is banned on campus.
Bowdoin implemented a number of similar practices in 2002 intended to reduce smoking on campus. The College prohibits smoking inside college buildings, residence halls and vehicles. The ban extends 50 feet from the building entrances of College property as well as the athletic fields. The policy is designed to bring Bowdoin into compliance with Maine’s Workplace Smoking Act of 1985, and Maine’s Act to Protect Maine Citizens from the Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke.
In 2004, Bowdoin received an award for its tobacco policy from the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network. However, no further changes have been made to Bowdoin’s policy since that time.
According to Director of Campus Safety and Security Randy Nichols, his office aims to curtail the frequency of tobacco use through consensual cessation, as opposed to more punitive measures.
“We try to handle these offenses as informally as possible; we’re certainly looking for people to voluntarily comply with this policy for the health and well-being of others, and most people are very good about that, and don’t want their smoking to bother others,” said Nichols.
Smoking on campus does not seem to pose a major concern to students.
According to the Orient’s February 2013 drug use survey, 6.7% of students use tobacco weekly or more.
“I choose not to, but I understand that others want to, and that’s their call. It does seem really infrequent though; I’ve been on other campuses where it’s a lot more of a problem, and I don’t know whether that’s because of the policy, or just Bowdoin being healthy,” said Joe Lake ’15.
Lydia Zhang ’16 said, “other than my friends, I don’t notice anyone else who smokes.”
While Bowdoin’s policies still allow for a relative amount of freedom when it comes to smoking, Nichols said that he wouldn’t be surprised by a change, in light of Colby’s recent switch.
“Bowdoin’s not a smoke-free campus yet, but my feeling is that it will be someday, and my personal opinion is that it should be. I think that as time goes on, we’ll see more support for an entirely smoke free campus,” said Nichols.
Former smoker Josh Berger-Caplan ’14 felt differently.
“It is a legal substance, you should be able to smoke if you’re over 18,” he said.
He chafed at Bowdoin’s 50 feet policy, saying that he “observed Maine state law, which is 20 feet from [an] entrance, not Bowdoin’s stupid rules.”
According to Nichols, an instance of smoking inside a dorm or building is generally taken quite seriously, given the potential impact upon others living within (fire, secondhand smoke, etc.). Additionally, students sometimes attempt to cover up or disable fire alarms in order to smoke in their rooms, which could further endanger the well-being of others; this is also treated with the utmost stringency.
“Last week, we received a complaint that someone was smoking inside Coles Tower, and that was reported to the Security Office. An officer went up and spoke to the student and did do a report on that,” said Nichols.
Less serious violations, such as smoking within fifty feet of a College building, are taken more lightly.
“We do get infrequent complaints, and while we do address these as they come in, we try to resolve the situation at the lowest possible level without having to take formal disciplinary measures,” said Nichols.
Besides strictly regulatory methods designed to reduce smoking, the Health and Human Resources Department offers a smoking cessation program for those interested in quitting. The Health Center offers services to students and faculty, including free nicotine patches, as well as full coverage of any certified external smoking cessation programs.
Correction, October 25th at 3:15 p.m.: The original article misquoted Randy Nichols as saying that a student was "written up." The error has been corrected.