UNH Calls It Quits

The Charger Bulletin

The University of New Haven Becomes Smoke and Tobacco Free June 1, 2015
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The University of New Haven is now a Smoke and Tobacco Free campus, as of June 1, 2015. According to Health Services Director Paula Cappucia, “This tobacco-free policy came into effect after talking with Connecticut Department of Health. With the Smoke Free Campus, UNH is joining 1,577 other universities across the country.”

Signs around campus remind students, faculty and staff alike that UNH is now a Tobacco and Smoke Free Campus (Photo by Caitlin Duncan/Charger Bulletin photo)
Signs around campus remind students, faculty and staff alike that UNH is now a Tobacco and Smoke Free Campus (Photo by Caitlin Duncan/Charger Bulletin photo)

Some students, such as Melissa Lundin and Lia Veley, both 21, agree with Capuccia that this will benefit the campus both immediately and in the long run.

“I can breathe!” laughs Lundin. “I think it’s a healthy choice.”

Veley agrees. “I think it’s a step in the right direction because our society is heading towards a ‘no smoking’ ideology, and within the next decade, I don’t think it’ll be an issue because the kids entering college in the next ten years won’t be doing it as much, if at all, because they’re being raised with the idea that it’s such an unhealthy habit.”

USGA president James Kielar, too, fully supports the initiative. “I think it’s great that the school is making strives for a healthier student body.”

Other students are more on the fence. “I think it’s a good thing, but I also think it’s going to be creating more problems than it’ll be solving,” said senior Mark Sylvester, 21, who is not only a member of the Class of 2016, but also is Student Coordinator for the USGA Health and Safety Committee and served on the panel that made the decision to enforce this policy.

Some, such as senior Josh Rodriguez, 20, are very much opposed to the new policy. Rodriguez, for example, smokes e-cigarettes, which, while not a tobacco product, are also not allowed on campus under this new initiative.

“I’m against it because I feel like the University should have created more smoking sections before cutting it out completely,” says Rodriguez. “The University should have given us a little more of a voice on this decision.”

Cappucia remembers before the campus went smoke free. “We tried allowing smoking 20 feet away from the building. However, that policy was hard to enforce and deemed ineffective.”

Enforcing this policy will be hard, no doubt. “So far everyone has been compliant, faculty and student alike,” said Dean of Students Rebecca Johnson.

Rodriguez even admits that, despite carrying his e-cigarette with him, he respects the policy enforced upon the community.

Cappucia stresses that this year will be a learning year, where we will educate smokers on the health hazards associated with smoking. Next year, when the policy is more known, there will be more disciplinary action.” In addition, there will be many free services made available to students who wish to quit smoking in order to aid in the cessation process.

“These services are free for you, so take advantage of them if applicable,” said Cappucia. “We are not trying to shame anyone, rather aid students in becoming more aware of their health.”

Understandably, some students, such as Rodriguez won’t be so quick to appreciate the new policy or the programs made available to them.

“I think that, as college students and adults, we should have that right [to make the decision for ourselves],” says Rodriguez.

Time will tell how the policy will be enforced. Signs around campus indicate this new policy.

However, not all faculty and students support this policy. The notion of free choice and constitutional rights are being called into play, with smoking providing a campus identity.

However, Cappucia sited that “laws are made for the consideration of the nonsmoker, not the smoker.”

The Campus Police Chief and Assistant Chief were contacted regarding the level of difficulty there has been so far in the enforcement of this new policy, but neither could be reached for comment in time for the publication of this article.