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ND student smokers may face restrictions

Michael Chambliss | Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Feel like going outside for a smoke? Within the next few years, when students feel like going outside for a smoke, they may have to travel off campus to do so. According to duLac statements about the University smoking policy, an entirely smoke-free campus may lie in Notre Dame’s future.

Smoking is currently prohibited in all Notre Dame buildings. Although the policy states that smoking in individual residence hall rooms is permitted with the consent of the room’s residents, the separate rules of each Notre Dame residence hall prohibit smoking altogether. This places Notre Dame in the minority among American universities.

According to a Harvard School of Public Health survey, 73 percent of colleges provide some form of smoking option in residence halls.

Regular smokers constitute a small percentage of Notre Dame’s on-campus students; 9.5 percent of students living on campus smoke three times a week or more, compared to the national average of 24 percent, according to the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education. Although the percentage of smokers is relatively small, with approximately 6,200 students living on campus, the number of smokers comes out to about 600. With the average residence hall housing about 230 students, the figure of 600 smokers would be significant in consideration of smoking options for on-campus housing.

Many regular smokers on Notre Dame’s campus are tired of facing the unpleasant attitudes of non-smokers. Leslie Fitzpatrick, a junior in Pasquerilla West, has had many unsavory encounters with non-smoking students.

“I get a lot of dirty looks. I’ve had strangers come up to me and tell me that my smoking is disgusting,” she said.

In the winter, smokers are frequently forced away from the protection offered by buildings and into the rain and snow.

“Even when it is cold and all the windows are closed, people come out and tell us to move away from the building,” Fitzpatrick said of her smoking experiences outside Pasquerilla West.

Junior Colleen Olsen of Breen-Philips Hall was asked by an RA to move from a sidewalk bench in front of a women’s residence hall.

“I was more than 50 feet away from the building on a bench with an ashtray next to it that is clearly intended for smoking,” Olsen said.

The movement toward smoke-free campuses across the nation, which prohibit smoking both indoors and outdoors, is in its beginning stages but is especially prevalent at West Coast universities. The University smoking policy states that Notre Dame may consider implementing such a prohibition of smoking within the next few years.

This prospect is especially appealing to those who are extremely averse to cigarette smoke. Gina Firth, director of Drug and Alcohol Education, is an asthmatic and suffers daily from exposure to cigarette smoke.

“I hate when people smoke in front of doorways. I am constantly having to walk through a haze of smoke to get into LaFortune and I start wheezing,” she said.

Some students feel that the University should address these kinds of problems in a way that is fair to those who smoke. Olsen believes that, instead of banning smoking entirely, the University should post signs in problem areas.

“It’s just not realistic to completely ban smoking. How do people expect to go on to professional careers in major cities and not regularly encounter cigarette smoke?” she said.