Two months after the University Senate passed a ban on smoking within 20 feet of buildings on the Morningside Heights campus, smokers are still lighting up.
Though the ban was passed by the University Senate on Dec. 3, enforcement has been delayed in order to publicize the ban, according to Scott Wright, the vice president of student and administrative services.
Wright said enforcement will begin in the next few weeks, once the specific policy details have been determined.
“My colleagues in marketing and communications are busy crafting the new policy language for every policy that addresses smoking at Columbia,” Wright said. “Once everyone who owns the policy feels comfortable with how it is put in place and how it is worded, we can begin enforcement.”
Still, some students are doubtful anything will change when it comes to smoking on campus, and others—like Cem Kent, CC ’12—said they were unaware that a 20-foot ban had even been instituted.
“I didn’t know anything was passed … and I don’t think any sort of ban will ever be enforced,” Kent said. “It’s too difficult to do so, since the distance is so arbitrary.”
“I haven’t been told to stop smoking at all,” Roisin Isner, GS ’13, said.
The University Senate had previously debated a campus-wide smoking ban as well as a 50-foot ban, but ultimately settled on the 20-foot rule.
“Ever since I was a freshman there has been discussion about smoking bans on campus,” Kent said. “There was a discussion about banning smoking near the gates of campus and nothing ever really happened.”
But Isner said she thinks the new ban will eventually be enforced.
“I imagine it will be on a case-by-case basis,” Isner said. “As long as you are respectful I can’t imagine it’ll be a problem, especially when its freezing out and really late. I would imagine certain security guards wouldn’t be too harsh.”
Wright said he assumes that once the ban has been properly advertised, people will respect it. He said this has been the case at the Columbia Medical Center, which recently passed a full smoking ban.
“It is our expectation, as was the experience at the medical center, that people won’t lean against the building and smoke, that they will see the signs and respect those signs,” he said.
Still, Kent predicted that enforcement will be minimal.
“The security guard doesn’t want to go outside and tell people to move 10 feet further,” Kent said. “The guards don’t have any real incentive to enforce the ban, unless they have some personal ideology against it.”