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Student org tries to ‘clear the air’ with smoke-free petition

Contributing Writer

Published: Friday, March 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 02:03


A student group at UNH is trying to clear the air. Substance Awareness through Functional Education is inviting students to sign an online petition to ban smoking on the UNH campus. Since its inception on March 5, the petition currently carries 109 student signatures.

The petition – per its website’s description – is not so much attempting to remove smoking from campus in itself, but rather to “gauge the community’s support on this issue (on-campus smoking).”

“At this time, while we are aware that other schools are considering (or have implemented) such bans, our focus is more likely to be on education rather than prohibition,” said Mark Rubinstein, vice president for student and academic services

UNH already bans smoking within a 20-foot radius of any on campus building.

“Kids don’t really smoke anymore,” said freshman Marc Romano when asked his take on the petition. “If they banned smoking I don’t think anyone would notice and no one would stop, anyway.” 

As of Jan. 2, roughly 1,129 college and university campuses nationally have banned on-campus smoking, indoors and outdoors, according to cites a rapid trend in on-campus smoking bans, whereas only 530 campuses were ‘smoke-free’ in July 2011. New Hampshire currently does not have any 100 percent smoke-free college campuses. Massachusetts has 14 smoke-free campuses, while Maine has five – all of which do not permit any tobacco substances at all, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

Advocating curtailing on campus smoking, UNH Health Services hosted “UNH Kick Butts Day” on March 20 and 21 in the MUB food court. Kick Butts Day was advertised on Health Services’ website as a “national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.” Those who attended the event were gifted a free “Quit Kit” containing advice and information on quitting smoking and a chance to talk with a SAFE peer educator about tricks to kick the habit. The event was aimed not just at students who are trying to quit or ‘kick’ the habit but also at elected officials, demanding legislation to snuff out cigarettes once and for all.  

“There’s always people smoking outside of Ham Smith,” said sophomore Justin Slattery. “But I don’t think it’s really a campus problem. People should be able to do what they want.”

Kick Butts Day, while advertising the smoking ban petition, outlined the detriments of smoking in New Hampshire, citing that “smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined,” as 1700 adults die each year in New Hampshire due to smoking, according to 

The quads of UNH are not exactly teeming with smokers – some students see smoking cigarettes as a social practice, not a habitual one.

“I don’t think I know anyone who smokes on the reg,” said sophomore Peter Mancuso. “I do know kids that only smoke on the weekends, though, like when they drink, but that’s it.” 

If a smoking ban were to be pursued, a petition would only be the start, having galvanizing power but no legal feasibility. Rubinstein said an issue of this nature should be raised through the “university’s representative structures including the undergraduate and graduate Student Senates, the Faculty Senate and the PAT, OS and EE Councils… (as a) more productive avenue” as opposed to signing a petition. 

The smoking ban petition received 70 signatures in the first two days of its posting, but in the 24 days since, it has received only 39 additional signatures. Perhaps the push to rid tobacco has quickly fatigued like a chain-smoker jogging.   

Brooke Warren, who was the first to sign the smoking ban petition, was unavailable for comment. 

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Mon Mar 25 2013 16:57
I am a longtime Conservative Repubulican and Business owner. I strongly agree . however, that smoking should not be allowed anywhere on any Campus. These facilities are for the leaders of tomorrow and not an initiation training ground to promote smoking as many have become.
Sun Mar 24 2013 19:54
While I don't personally smoke, I think everyone has the right do do whatever they want. Don't force your life views on them, just like you wouldn't want anyone to do to you. Live free or die.
Brian J. Stone
Sat Mar 23 2013 17:49
A college student who is 18 years old has the right to smoke on campus as long as there are no externalities. By externalities I mean things such as people inhaling smoke from smokers by no fault of their own. A viable solution must be found that neither infringes on the rights of smokers and those whom do not smoke. The 20ft away from the building rule is not a viable solution as it is frequently ignored.
Sat Mar 23 2013 00:02
I attend graduate school at SNHU and can tell you that there are a large number of smokers on campus, and many of whom do not obey the "20 foot rule." I would like to see a ban on smoking or at least a 50 foot rule so that I do not have to smell the smoke at all.
Fri Mar 22 2013 20:00
Awww how nice grooming future litle stalinistic swine !
Fri Mar 22 2013 19:02
SO ... the 1960's free love and weed generation has begotten kids who want to legislate fascist prohibition against smoking mere cigarettes in the open air. That's a perfect payback to the generation that destroyed America's moral compass (and work ethic and public education system while they were at it.)

Liberal lefties with zilch parenting skills: I present your reactionary kids! You are pathetic losers all the way through grandparenting and on to your imminent demise in a couple more decades. It has been my life-long burden to follow your 1960's whacked out influence on America. Now your kids are over-compensating the *other* way. I dearly hope America recovers from your damage. Thanks for nothing, nit wits!

{ And if you truly cherish "diversity" of opinion, I dare you to leave my comments up on-line. Removing them is only proof of how hypocritical your generation really has been all along. }

Fri Mar 22 2013 14:34
As a 47 Year forner Smoker and a 19 Year smoker Free, I agree with you 100 Percent. Don't forget, the US Government Subsidizes the Tobacco Farmers.

Muriel M. Lucas

Fri Mar 22 2013 07:40
The 20' rule is not really sufficient to keep smokers far enough from building entrances, and is frequently ignored by smokers. Additionally, if a smoker is 20' from an entrance, but one must still walk past the smoker and through the smoke, the 20' rule is ineffective. The 20' rule also reduces the chances that butts will find there way to the trash. UNH cannot really claim to be environmentally conscious when cigarette butts litter campus from one end to the other. The petition has not been very visible, which may have contributed to the small number of signatures. It seems to me that there is much disagreement with the 20' rule. That is, I hear many comments about smokers outside of buildings, and the litter of butts.

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