Lai: Smoking policy enforcement insufficient

Lai argues that Temple should better implement its current anti-smoking policies.

Justin Lai

Justin LaiA cleaner and better smoke-free environment for everyone at Temple starts with the enforcement of the smoking policy.

The policy contains a written commitment to a smoke-free environment for all students, staff and faculty at Temple. Under these rules, Temple’s smoking policy states that there is no smoking within 25 feet of any entrance, exit or operable window of university buildings. Violation of the policy results in a minor offense under the student code of conduct. However, this commitment put forth by the university continues to be undermined.

The problem with this commitment starts with the lack of enforcement of the policy itself. Although this rule is stated, Temple does not actively push penalties on those who do not adhere to it. This issue is perpetuated by students, visitors and sometimes even faculty and staff, who continue to smoke within the non-smoking zones. The root of the problem may lie not in the offenders, but in the university’s ineffectiveness to clearly state the rules.

Unfortunately, Temple actually encourages this behavior by placing ashtrays in front of door entrances and exits, which basically advocates smoking well within 25 feet of a building.

In order to address this issue, the policy needs to be made aware to Temple students and faculty.

Every day, regardless of whether it is in front of Tuttleman Learning Center or the TECH Center, there is always someone violating this policy. Awareness of the policy is as simple as having signs in front of entrances, exits and windows. At Ambler Campus the policy is better implemented by having smoking signs on buildings and next to ashtrays.

Keeping ashtrays away from the 25 feet zone would not only keep smoke away from public areas but also allow smokers to easily follow the policy.

Temple needs to enforce its smoke-free policy. Temple security and police could warn students who are in violation. Enforcing this policy benefits everyone at Temple, reducing air pollutants and the adverse effects of those who are passively exposed to tobacco smoke. Passive exposure to smoke can cause eye irritation, nasal congestion and aggravation of existing health conditions, especially in individuals suffering from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Enforcement of this policy could also start a push toward the bigger picture: for a completely smoke-free and healthy campus, which Temple should strive for. Improved air quality will benefit everyone.

More than 825 campuses of many colleges and universities in the U.S. have gone 100 percent smoke-free, according to an October report of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Pennsylvania schools, including Baptist Bible College, Community College of Beaver County, Eastern University, Lackawanna College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Reading Area Community College and Widener University have committed to the smoke-free initiative. Temple should join these schools in setting an example.

Additionally, there are ways students can get involved in trying to promote anti-smoking campaigns. Groups like the Student Coalition for the Prevention of Tobacco and events like the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 15 are active movements that can strengthen the fight for cleaner, healthier campuses.

Justin Lai can be reached at

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