“No Smoking” signs can be seen all over Salt Lake Community College campuses. Some are stuck on doors and others on aluminum signs posted outside of buildings. All are there in the name of helping promote the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act (UICAA). But with so many signs, many of which are conflicting, what’s a smoker to do?
Walking along the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, you may find several confusing signs as to just how far away a smoker should be from a building. One sign in particular is attached just outside of the Administration Building.
“NO SMOKING WITHIN 50’ OF THIS ENTRANCE,” it reads. Besides just being inches outside of the 25-foot rule, underneath the sign sits a smoking receptacle. Located on the opposite side of the building is another sign – “ENTERING A NO SMOKING ZONE;” however, just a few feet beyond that sign is another smoking receptacle. What kind of message is this sending to smokers about where they can or cannot light up?
Rule R392-510-9 of the UICAA says that smoking is not permitted within 25 feet of any entrance-way, exit, open window, or air intake of a building where smoking is prohibited. Schools, whether public or private, are included in the rule.
“Most people who smoke on campus don’t follow the 25-foot policy,” said Tatiana Burton, health promotions program manager and smoking cessation advisor at SLCC. “Signage is the big issue.”
Joshua Dicamillo, a SLCC student, believes that smoking receptacles are there to imply smoking.
“I typically smoke where the ashtray is or a little bit away and then walk towards the ashtray on my final drag,” said Dicamillo.
The UICCA also requires ashtrays to be placed near entrances only if they have durable and easily readable signage indicating that the ashtray is provided for convenience only and the area around it is not a smoking area. The sign shall include a reference to the 25-foot prohibition. For smokers like Dicamillo, a cigarette receptacle is an inviting place for smokers to congregate, which is why the law requires signage discouraging it.
Smoking on college campuses has made headline news on CNN. It has become such an issue that many schools now prohibit smoking anywhere on campus.
“Secondhand smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer,” according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
One of the main benefits of a smoke-free policy is to protect the health of nonsmokers. The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation even keeps a running list of U.S.colleges and universities that have adopted such policies.
One student in favor of having designated areas for smokers is Jeffery Thomas. Thomas, who is a non-smoker, says that he’s observed smokers at several buildings that do not adhere to the 25-foot rule. He and Tatiana Burton both worry about the dangers of secondhand smoke in a campus environment.
Whether you agree with stricter smoking policies on college campuses or not, it is obvious that clear and consistent signage and enforcement is needed. This will help to inform smokers where they are allowed or not allowed to smoke to protect the health of nonsmokers who want to avoid involuntary secondhand smoke exposure.