Arizona State is the latest higher education institution to implement a tobacco ban on its campuses. Hundreds of colleges and universities around the country have already put such policies in place, but Arizona State faces questions over enforcement.
"Why is there no smoking if no one is actually doing something about it?" freshman Karina Munoz asked.
University officials are using a "self-enforcement" strategy when it comes to ending smoking on campus. Police and staff are provided with very few guidelines to implement it. Also, there are no penalties according to the Academic Affairs Manual, which outlines the Tobacco-Free Campus policy.
"We like to use the term 'education' as opposed to 'enforcement,'" ASU Associate Vice President Kevin Salcido said.
Between semesters, the university spent nearly $40,000 on signage with the intent to educate the student body on the new policy, but smokers are still found around campus, sometimes smoking within just feet of those signs warning them of the no smoking policy.
"It's pretty silly I guess," Munoz said.
Without enforcement of the policy, some smokers don't plan to completely abide by it.
"I sometimes go in the teacher's parking lot," first-year student Christina Kern said. "I have a cigarette [there]."
According to the policy, the use of any tobacco products are prohibited on all university-owned or leased properties, including facilities, grounds, parking structures and Arizona State vehicles.
The only exceptions to the policy are in privately owned vehicles on public roads or areas that have been designated as smoking areas.
"There are no places like that," another student said. "There are no smoking areas for us."
Arizona State isn't the first campus in the Valley to implement a no-smoking policy. On all 10 Maricopa County Community College campuses, a similar policy is in place and it's enforced by Public Safety officers.
According to MCCCD's enforcement guidelines, all violators will receive an initial warning and subsequent violations by the same offender will result in a referral of the student to the Dean of Student Affairs.
At ASU, police will not be enforcing the policy or writing citations. Penalties for not abiding by the policy are not clear in the Academic Affairs Manual. Salcido says the campus will try the "self-enforcement" technique for now but the policy could be tweaked at a later date if students continue to ignore it.
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