Monday, February 27

Editorial: Tobacco ban’s campaign could improve outreach

Tobacco policy’s educational approach is admirable, but more visibility is needed

The issue: UCLA’s smoking ban, which goes into effect today, will be enforced through education. Students can pick up informational cards, which they can hand out to others they see smoking on campus.

Our stance: The decision to not strongly enforce the tobacco ban is a good choice, but UCLA’s Tobacco-Free Steering Committee should make its educational campaign about smoking more active and visible.

UCLA’s tobacco ban is a symbolic act.

Starting today, students can pick up informational cards about UCLA’s tobacco-free policy in Murphy Hall and pass them out to people on campus whom they see using tobacco. The cards will also provide information on tobacco cessation resources on campus.

In other words, the policy will be only weakly enforced and will mainly rely on students to hand out the cards to their peers, providing little in the way of concrete methods to decrease on-campus smoking.

Though we appreciate UCLA’s decision not to force lifestyle choices on community members by issuing citations or fining smokers, the university’s moderate push for a healthier campus could be strengthened by more proactive educational outreach.

After all, the most fundamental motivation behind the tobacco-free policy is a good one. The policy aligns with UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative, which aims to promote physical, emotional and environmental wellness on campus.

The university’s decision to focus on signage and resources for students to quit smoking is a good start to promoting a smoke-free campus.

However, the Tobacco-Free Steering Committee needs to take more initiative in partnering with the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center to make educational resources more present on the Hill and on campus.

Since early January, the Ashe Center has made free two-week nicotine replacement starter kits available to students who wish to quit smoking. In addition, ash trays on campus are now decorated with signs that direct students to a website to learn more about how to quit smoking.

While these resources are valuable, they are still too passive to effect a change in behavior on campus.

The Ashe Center should set up a table on Bruin Walk to hand out nicotine patches or gum and answer questions about smoking cessation. The center could also provide residential assistants on the Hill with nicotine patches to be distributed to residents who wish to quit smoking.

Meanwhile, the Tobacco-Free Steering Committee could set up informational booths in areas of the campus, like the steps outside of Powell Library, where many people tend to smoke.

Further, studies have also shown that smoking bans moderately enforced through education, like the one at UCLA, can have positive long-term effects.

A 2012 study on college tobacco bans found that such policies led to a decrease in the frequency of smoking, and a shift in attitudes regarding smoking.

The university’s middle ground approach to working toward a smoke-free campus is a wise choice but should be built upon with more visible educational resources.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • 4.0smoker

    “Though we appreciate UCLA’s decision not to force lifestyle choices on community members by issuing citations or fining smokers.”

    Awesome, I am glad that I can continue to have better performance than everyone at this school who actually cares and wastes time regarding this policy by continuing to smoke in secluded spots on campus. Great job promoting paternalistic policies at a university that is increasing in costs and characteristics of a police state.

  • Emily Montan

    I serve on the tobacco free UC committee with systemwide Risk Services and I agree, we need to provide many educational and support services to students, staff and faculty on the policy. I also agree that the tobacco free policy needs teeth. The University of Oregan (I believe) did a great presentation on how they implemented a tobacco free policy at the Risk Summit last year. One of the program’s successes was that there was an enforcement piece to it and they very rarely have problems with tobacco on campus.

    Tobacco is an OPTIONAL lifestyle and doesn’t fit into the UC mission; considering we manage a State funded Tobacco Research and Policy group which is strongly anti-tobacco. When campus inhabitants want to smoke or chew tobacco, they can do it elsewhere. We will provide quitting resources and help so everyone can work to live without tobacco for the duration or the rest of their lives.

    • Thoughts

      Great idea! Next we can ask our students to go around accosting obese people since their lifestyle does not fit in with the UC mission.

      • Emily Montan

        My overeating does NOT affect the air that we breath. Smoking is not a lifestyle. It is an addiction that affects those around the smoker. I should know, I used to be one.