SA tries to up awareness for existing smoking policy


An SDSU student smokes 20 feet away from Binnewies hall 

Pat Bowden News Editor


While SDSU has a standing policy on smoking near buildings on campus, pretty much everyone agrees that the current restrictions aren’t working. Students’ Association is working to increase awareness of the current 20-foot rule. 

The other five state Board of Regents campuses have full smoking bans, leaving SDSU as the only state public university without a ban on smoking. The BOR also has a policy that schools must restrict smoking within 20 feet of a building entrance and have all buildings be smoke free.

“The [smoking] policy has been in place for several years, and people simply aren’t aware of it,” SA Public Relations & Programming Chair Libby Trammell said. “The policy as it stands is not being followed as well as it could be. A lot of this has to do with it being cold. It you’re going outside to have a cigarette you want to be close to the warm buildings. A lot of it too is smokers just not knowing the policies.” 

The SA resolution, 13-04-R, “Raising Smoking Policy Awareness,” points out issues already established by the original policy, such as people with asthma and allergies can be irritated by cigarette smoke and that secondhand smoke can cause health-related problems. 

“We’ve heard a few complaints about people [smokers] standing too close to the doorway, and we were aware of the rule but this resolution is mainly asking people to follow the rule,” SA President Ben Stout said. “The resolution we passed is pretty agreeable because we just want them to step away from the building, which is what this resolution addresses … I think that that’s the case with any rule – if people don’t know about it, they won’t follow it.”

Likewise, some students on campus are concerned with the health risks that come with secondhand smoke. Wishing to keep distance from smoke, freshman Allison Chamberlain, who has yet to declare a major, said she thinks that there are a lot of people who smoke too close to the building.

“It bothers me because I’m a non-smoker and I don’t appreciate secondhand smoke in my face,” Chamberlain said. “Because this dorm is non-smoking, I think I should be able to live in an area that’s smoke free.”

While neither the school nor SA is currently looking into a ban on smoking, voiced concerns about smoking in smoke-free areas are being heard.

“I don’t see the [20-foot rule] policy being followed often. I always end up coughing when I walk past the smoking groups, and it bothers me because I know how bad the side effects can be for a non-smoker,” freshman advertising major Jenna Croymans said. “I feel like I shouldn’t be subjected to that.”

There are students who support a future ban on smoking for SDSU. 

“Since we’re the only [regental] school in state that doesn’t ban smoking, I think that’s a problem. I would like us to join the ranks of those non-smoking schools,” Chamberlain said.

To prevent these types of conflicts, campus has provided smoking outlets outside of main buildings and residence halls. The problem, however, lies when smokers don’t stay within these designated areas.

“SDSU does a good job of providing smoking outlets, we were just enforcing things that are already in place to show that we respect the BOR policy,” Sen. Jacob Sutton said. “It’s hard to be a campus that offers this opportunity since a lot of campuses are being asked to ban smoking. It’s important to realize that it’s an individual’s choice to smoke but to be aware of others safety and health.” 

Both the university and the students have historically had a higher interest in the individual right to smoke, as a previous attempt last year to ban smoking failed to pass. 

“Last year they wanted to do a full-on smoking ban, but we felt that this [resolution] was a good first start to prevent problems,” Sen. Brandi Murley said.

The policy and resolution were both created by SA with the thought of smokers and non-smokers in mind in order to have a campus that can have the two live in unison. The designated smoking areas, too, were designed with both smokers and non-smokers to be outside at the same time. 

“I do see smoking as an individual right. As far as second hand smoke goes this resolution is there to try to resolve some conflict within that,” Trammell said. “If smokers are 20 feet from a building then there is more room to avoid the secondhand smoke. This 


 makes it so smokers can exercise their rights while non-smokers can avoid the factors that would cause them harm.” 

Of course, there’s students on campus who have never been aware of the policy currently in place. 

“I wasn’t aware of the 20-foot policy. [When it’s windy] A lot of people huddle over by the building,” freshman civil engineering major James Gilkerson said. “I think it might be an issue if people have their window open, but I feel like it’s okay to smoke around the area around the benches.”

The resolution plans on taking action to raise awareness by working with campus programs to visually promote the rules existing.

“I hope residential halls and UPD stand behind the policy, too. It won’t be all fixed at once, but if we can start with the res halls maybe it can make it’s way to The Union and further on,” Murley said.

Creating awareness will be a combined effort, starting with where students live to where they go to on campus every day. 

“I think we just want people to know that this rule is out there, and we’re planning on working with Res Life and other campus organizations to raise awareness, such as signage. The main goal is to remind people that this rule exists and we need to follow this rule,” Stout said. 

SA hopes to have Community Assistants making announcements at floor meetings, creating new promoting signage and using their social media accounts to promote the resolution.

“This will be a huge thing for students to see that there is a smoking policy on campus,” Sutton said. “I was to see students who want to smoke are able to, but the big thing I’m concerned with is that individuals who don’t want to be around cigarettes  don’t have to be.”