Tobacco sales banned on campus
September 30, 2003 8:11 AM
SF State smokers had better start planning on bringing their cigarettes with them. The luxury of buying a pack of smokes from the Student Union is now a thing of the past.
California State University leaders have officially opened the doors for presidents of the system’s 23 campuses to implement a ban on the sales of any and all tobacco products effective August 15, 2003. A CSU committee unanimously approved the proposal that has called for swift changes to the largest four-year university system in the country, with over 389,000 students.
Many smokers on campus were unaware of the new policy early on in the semester. Students who expected to buy their cigarettes from either the Lobby Shop or the Snackademic in the student center were surprised to see all of the tobacco products removed from the shelves and replaced with small signs stating the new CSU decision.
Experts say that up to 53,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to secondhand smoke, making it the third-leading cause of preventable death behind smoking and alcohol use. Reports from CSU officials show that the rate of college students who smoke at least once a day has climbed from 22 percent a decade ago to almost 29 percent only two years ago.
“In light of what we now know about secondhand smoke, it’s time that we all make changes,” said Fresno State President John Welty. Fresno State has been a smoke-free campus since April 2003, designating only a few smoking areas within the school grounds for students who wish to smoke.
Groups like TACTIC (Together Against Campus Tobacco Investments Campaign), ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), and The San Francisco Tobacco Free Project consider the decision a small victory. “We’re not trying to take away students’ freedom,” said Gail Musolf, SF State student advocate. “This is just one step in the right direction. The tobacco industry is targeting 18-to 24-year-old students, and has made that group of students a focal point for years.”
Latino Issues Forum (LIF) got the ball rolling on tobacco curbing policies back in January 2002 when the group received a two-year grant estimated at $200,000 from the San Francisco Department of Public Health Tobacco Free Project (SFTFP) to carry out a tobacco free college campuses project at both City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State.
The group’s main goals of eliminating the availability of tobacco and tobacco subsidiary products and the elimination of tobacco advertising and sponsorship on campus and campus related events have both been achieved.
“The general reaction from most smokers was probably irritation,” said Snackademic employee and SF State junior, Bianca Cummings. “When I was in the bookstore somebody was complaining about how they had to pay a lot of money for their books, but couldn’t buy their cigarettes on campus any longer.”
At the other campus mini-mart, the Lobby Shop, tobacco products were made readily available until the entire supply had been depleted. It took only a week and a half after the fall semester began however, for the last pack of cigarettes to disappear off of the store shelves.
“Even after the banning, students who are unaware of the policy still come in daily asking to buy cigarettes,” said Elsa Ramos, manager of the Lobby Shop. “I think that a lot of smokers are mad at us, but it is not our policy it is the universities.”
Many non-smokers on campus have expressed that they are in favor of banning tobacco sales, but not in favor of taking away all of the smoker’s rights.
“It kind of seems like the health police are at it again,” said Karen Anne Light, a non-smoker and SF State sophomore. “I don’t think smoking is a good thing, but I don’t understand why it’s the school’s job to enforce rules against tobacco when they are selling nachos and soda which in the long-run can be just as bad”.
“When I sit here at my desk, a lot of smoke comes in through the doors,” said Christy Graham, a library employee. “If people want to still smoke, they certainly can, but I think that the university supporting tobacco sales when it’s known as a health hazard was a bad idea.”
Smokers on campus are annoyed that they now have to find another outlet to purchase their cigarettes. Many expressed that there really is no other place within reasonable walking distance where they can feed their tobacco addiction.
“It’s a pain in the ass, having to walk a couple of blocks to the store just to buy a pack of cigarettes,” said Yousif Sassi, an SF State sophomore.
“People are starting to sell packs of cigarettes on campus secretly, like from their backpacks,” said Nala Gardizi, an SF State sophomore. “They sell packs for like three bucks.”
“Non-smokers have been on our asses for like the last ten years, you can’t smoke anywhere anymore,” said John Lee, an SF State junior. “You know what they are; they’re a bunch of granola heads, that’s what they are.”
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