A week and a half into the school year, MSU’s new tobacco-free campus policy seems to have been largely successful at pushing smokers to the edges of campus. However, concentrated tobacco use along border streets has been an inconvenience to some campus neighbors.
“People definitely just went along with it,” said architecture student Cara Bionde, commenting that campus has noticeably less cigarette litter.
“You don’t see these punks smoking in circles,” said John Wells, also an architecture student. “It’s kind of set a different vibe.” He added, “It just feels a little bit cleaner — there’s a little less cabbage.”
Smokers interviewed were generally reconciled to the change, if frustrated in some cases. Calling the policy “dumb,” sociology and political science major Lance Morrison said that it makes it harder for him to use smoking as a way to manage stress.
Eric Tuten, a film student, was less concerned. “I smoke, but I don’t really care that they banned it on campus,” he said, explaining that the new policy hasn’t been a major inconvenience for him because he lives off campus.
“I’ve seen people smoking on campus,” he added, “but I haven’t tried it and don’t really plan to.”
Congregations of smokers along the edges of campus have caused some concerns for MSU’s neighbors, especially in terms of litter.
Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority Property Coordinator Brittani Nickol said her house, located across 6th Ave. from Roberts Hall, initially had issues with smokers in the front yard. She said the concern was resolved after sorority members posted signs and asked smokers to relocate to the campus side of the street, though house members were still forced to clean up cigarette butts.
“It’s probably better to have them concentrated in one space,” Nickol said, adding that she thought designating a centrally-located smoking zone would minimize the visual impact when approaching campus.
Granny’s Donuts owner Robert McWilliams said that his shop on Lincoln Ave. has had more cigarette litter than normal since the ban went into effect. He has had to compensate by cleaning outside more often, and is planning to purchase an ash receptacle.
“Why has it become my problem?” he asked. “I don’t want to be the cigarette butt Nazi — if you go smoke, clean up after yourself.”
“I think they just moved the mess off campus instead of mitigating it,” commented Connor Lauchenbruch, a pre-music tech student.
Jenny Haubenreiser, MSU’s Health Promotions Director, said that the university could provide support for affected business if contacted. “You don’t really know what the problems are until they manifest themselves,” she commented.
She added that she expects the policy to take a year or more to achieve its ultimate goal of shifting the campus culture so tobacco use is eliminated. “Success is a long-term issue,” she said.