Bans on smoking adopted by 2 more Mass. universities
Bridgewater State, Salem set new rule
As students return to college for the start of the school year, those attending two Massachusetts state universities will find they can no longer smoke anywhere on the campus, beginning today. This includes lawns, parking lots, and sidewalks.
Bridgewater State University and Salem State’s three campuses have joined more than 500 other colleges nationwide in instituting smoke-free policies on campus.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy adopted a smoke-free policy in July, Bristol and Cape Cod community colleges already had the restrictions in place, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst announced last spring that it would be going smoke-free in 2013. Some students there protested the change in policy, arguing that it would drive students to smoke indoors.
State law prohibits smoking in any state-owned buildings, including dorms, libraries, and classrooms at public universities.
While most students won’t hit Salem State’s campus until next week, university spokeswoman Karen Cady said the school spent a year preparing students and faculty for the change, offering free smoking cessation programs and easy access to pharmaceutical aids.
University officials sent surveys two years ago to all 11,000 students and faculty asking them about their attitudes towards smoking and received 1,200 responses.
Three-quarters of the respondents said they were exposed to smoking on campus at least once a month, and one-quarter said they had respiratory conditions, such as asthma, which can be exacerbated from second-hand smoke exposure.
Nearly 40 percent of the respondents objected to the stronger smoking rules, while nearly 60 percent reported that their experience on campus was negatively affected by smokers.
Clearly, those who took the time to fill out the survey had strong opinions on smoking, Cady pointed out, which may or may not be representative of the student body as a whole.
When asked how the university planned to enforce the new rules, Cady said, “Initially very gently. No fines will be instituted. We’ll use a reminder approach.’’
That’s contrary to stronger enforcement policies at other schools such as Bridgewater State University, which says the school “reserves the right to initiate disciplinary procedures, up to and including termination for employees or expulsion for students, against any individual found to be in continuous violation of this policy.’’
Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.