Pennsylvania’s 14 state schools banned smoking on all campus property on Sept. 11 in accordance with the Clean Indoor Air Act. The act prohibits smokers from lighting up not just in dorm and class buildings, but also any outdoor space, as “the entire campus is our educational space”
Temple is a Commonwealth school, and although it receives public funding, it is not owned by the state, and is therefore exempt from the Clean Indoor Air Act.
Smokers argue that they have a right to smoke in a public space. Non-smokers feel they should be able to enjoy a smoke-free campus. The trouble with the Clean Indoor Air Act is that both sides have valid points, and both pay tuition. It’s hard to justify an act that infringes on the personal choices of the students who pay to attend those 14 colleges.
The argument over whether the act is appropriate is sure to be a long one, but there is a separate issue to consider. Should Temple join the Clean Indoor Air Act?
In short, no.
At its most basic level, the Clean Indoor Air Act bans smoking in public educational facilities. It is up to each school to determine which spaces meet those qualifications. Temple’s Main Campus has ill-defined boundaries – if any at all. There is no organized way to determine what is campus property and what is not.
In cases like the Edge at Avenue North, some floors are privately owned, and others belong to Temple. If Temple were to become part of the Clean Indoor Air Act, there would be no way to regulate smoking in the Edge. The same can be said for 1700 N. Broad St., a Temple-owned building situated next to Wendy’s fast food restaurant. A campus-wide smoking ban would wrongfully affect Wendy’s patrons.
Regulating smoking on college campuses needs to be a step-by-step process. In Temple’s case, the most logical choice is to enforce its current smoking policies.
Every classroom building has an ashtray in front imploring students to put out their cigarettes before coming within 20 feet of the entrance. When the weather gets bad, smokers will pile up under the overhangs in front of entrances to finish their cigarettes. No one is there to administer the 20-feet rule.
The next step is to put more ashtrays around campus. There aren’t enough to accommodate all the smokers, and the existing ones fill up quickly. Having more ashtrays would free up the building entrances and help Main Campus look cleaner.
The Clean Indoor Air Act is a nice idea in theory to make public areas cleaner, but the requirements are too vague. The goal of college campuses should be to create a healthy educational environment without interfering on students’ rights and choices.
When enforced, Temple’s current policy is the most sensible approach to campus smoking.