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CSU to snuff out campus smoking

Focus group approved to devise ‘plan of change’

By Eric Bonzar

September 27, 2012

 

Make no “butts” about it, there are changes coming to the smoking policy at Cleveland State.

The only questions that seem to remain for those implementing these changes are what those policies will be and how they will be enforced.

For students on campus, the primary question appears to be one of discrimination.
The question that arises most often from students is, “how?”

Students on campus perceive the imminent change as discriminatory — even almost hypocritical — that a university whose Student Center houses a bar would ban students from smoking yet promote drinking.

The architects behind the new policy disagree.

These proponents of a campus-wide tobacco ban believe that smoking and drinking cannot be placed in the same category.

On Sept. 20, the Board of Trustees approved a motion recommended by the financial affairs committee, allowing for the developmental stage of the process to begin.

Stephanie McHenry, vice president of Business Affairs and Finance, told the board that although policy changes were imminent, what those changes would be, and how they would take effect, is something that needs to be looked at carefully.

“We want to move forward with developmental policies, but we do not want to rush into developing that policy, because we have some pretty interesting dynamics that we have to deal with at CSU,” McHenry said.

McHenry told the board that the most complex dynamic of the policy is logistics.

Cleveland State’s campus spreads out between Payne and Carnegie Avenues longitudinally and Interstate 90 and East 17th Street latitudinally, making it difficult to truly define its boundaries as a campus.

“We don’t have a tight circumference that we can batten down and say, ‘This is our campus,’” McHenry said. “(So) we want to understand what that impact will be on our neighbors and our other partners in the neighborhood.”

McHenry said that with an estimated 4,400 student and 300 faculty smokers, the university plans to put together a group that is representative of faculty, staff, student life and actual students to devise a plan of change.

“It’s not whether we do it or not, but how we do it,” said McHenry. “And how we do it so it is effective for our particular campus.”

Although McHenry didn’t mention how many people would sit on the discussion panel, or how many of them would, or would not be smokers, students and staff on campus didn’t hesitate to share their views on the topic.

Rich Chuha, of conference services said as an employee of seven years and a smoker who is trying to quit, the new policy will be good for him personally, but agrees with McHenry that it will be hard to enforce.

“I knew it would happen sooner or later,” said Chuha. “Now it’s an added bonus to help push me to quit smoking.”

Chuha said what does concern him is if the new policy will be a campus-wide ban, or if the university will provide designated areas for those who still choose to smoke.

Joe Mosbrook, director of strategic communications at Cleveland State, said he doesn’t believe that the new policy will be an all-or-nothing proposition and that the way it has been presented is just semantics.

“Any time you have a controversial issue like this, typically the solution is some sort of compromise,” said Mosbrook. “The compromise isn’t always right in the middle, but there’s usually some give or take.”

Rob Johnson, liberal studies major, said the university’s plan to implement any type of smoking policy would be hypocritical because of Bar Uno located in the student center.

“Smoking is bad no matter how you slice and dice it,” said Mosbrook. “The medical community believes that a drink now and then is actually beneficial.” “We certainly don’t encourage binge drinking, and we certainly don’t encourage underage drinking, but in moderation, it’s not a bad thing.”

Johnson said he doesn’t believe anyone can show concern about smoking; yet promote drinking as long as it is done moderately.

“I don’t understand how you can be a proponent of any vice that is addictive,” said Johnson. “There’s no good that comes from any vice, whether it is smoking or drinking.”

Dr. Henry Eisenberg, director of Health and Wellness Services at Cleveland State, agrees with Mosbrook, and said that consuming alcohol in moderation can be beneficial; and that most health advocates agree.

“Alcohol has some evidence, in moderation, of being both beneficial to one’s heart and general health,” said Eisenberg. “I think that’s why you see the university support this.” “I think the feeling is, we’d much rather have the students drink in moderation in the student center, than to go off in excess and binge drinking in bars off campus.”

Johnson said the university is only implementing a double standard by not allowing students and faculty to smoke on campus, but allowing them to consume alcohol as long as they’re of legal age.

“You can’t legislate morals,” said Johnson. “No matter how hard you try.”

The Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the new policy Nov. 7.