Mercer’s new smoke-free campus policy causes controversy

Written by: Mariana Braz

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 8.18.38 PM


Effective January 1, 2013, Mercer is a smoke-free campus. Almost two months since the new smoking policy went into effect, the college community is still trying to adapt to the new environment.

Before January 1, students, faculty and staff had access to smoking huts around campus where they would gather throughout the day.  With the new policy, smokers are only allowed to smoke inside of their vehicles in the parking lot.

According to Mercer’s website, the reason for the policy is an “interest in maintaining a healthy and safe environment for its students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Although the current student handbook 2012-2013 has not been updated with the language of the new policy, for those who ignore the changes, signs on campus clarify that there are fines starting at $25 for first time offenders. The second time offenders will pay $50, and after that, each offense will be $100.

When asked to comment on the new smoking policy, Chief of Security Michael Flaherty said, “I’m not allowed to talk to The VOICE.”

Director of College Safety and Facilities Bryon Marshall told The VOICE that, so far, there has not been a fine issued regarding smoking on campus.

Marshall also said that students sometimes light up a cigarette on their way to the parking lot. “That is a stretch of the policy but for the large part we have reasonable compliance.”

As far as faculty, Marshall said that the policy applies to everybody and faculty will be treated the same as if a student was caught smoking on campus.

During the College Governance Council meeting on February 12, 2013, Marshall said that if someone sees another person smoking on campus, they should inform them about the policy.

A question raised during the College Governance Council meeting that didn’t have a clear answer whether the language of the policy is clear about smoking inside of vehicles. Marshall said “I will ask Jose [Fernandez] about smoking in the car.” Fernandez is the Executive Director for Compliance and Human Resources. When The VOICE attempted to obtain a comment from Fernandez an administrative assistant said “He is in a meeting all day.”

Executive Dean of Student Affairs Dr. L. Diane Campbell told the VOICE that so far she hasn’t heard anything negative about the policy. “Students are complying and not complaining.”

During the interview with The VOICE, Dean Campbell called Jose Fernandez who told her that, so far, no infractions have been reported.

Campbell also said everyone must be aware that it will be hard for some people.  “Smoking is a way to relax and I know I have couple of smokers on my staff, but they haven’t said anything so far.”

Dean Campbell also told The VOICE that  Assistant Dean of Students John Simone saw students smoking on campus. “He saw two students smoking but when he told them about the policy they put the cigarettes down right away.”

President of SGA Anderson Monken told The VOICE that security is “starting [to enforce the policy] so that the students can adjust to that.” He added, “I think they’re going in the right direction. It’s the healthy way to go.”

Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Robin Schore told The VOICE that he knows about faculty members who stopped smoking. “I haven’t heard any complaints. I actually know that two professors quit smoking since the policy went into effect.”

Dean Schore also talked about the importance the smoking huts played on campus. “The smoking kiosks were an informal socializing place, where students [and faculty] used to meet and interact.” He said it would be beneficial to have something “less lethal” to substitute for the smoking huts as a socializing spot.

Vitaly Kazak, second year Chemistry major, says he still smokes around campus walking to and from the parking lot. “I used to go to the smoking huts and now I don’t have another place to go.”

Kazak said that he has seen other students and faculty smoking around campus since the new policy took effect. Kazak said he thought “Security is not really enforcing it.”

He also said that he is not really happy with the change and that Mercer should figure out a place for smokers.“We should have designated areas like everywhere else.”

While some students don’t agree with the smoke-free campus, others seem to be satisfied with the initiative.

Amanda Suarez, a second year Liberal Arts major at Mercer said that the policy is better for her because she has asthma and she also thinks that  “it’s a step in the right direction as far as health. It makes an added effort to try to get smokers to quit and just a better environment for everyone.”

Print Friendly
Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumbler Email

Tags: , , , ,

Mariana Braz

Comments are closed.

Paul McCartney plays Prudential Center in Newark: An intimate night with 18,000 fans

Paul McCartney, one fourth of the legendary rock band The Beatles, filled the 18,000 seat, Prudential Center in Newark, New […]

Who’s next? Dr. David Edwards leaves, paving the way for 5th Mercer VP in five years

Mercer’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. David Edwards, will be leaving his position to assume the same role at […]

Where do we stand on taking a knee?

In the past few weeks the country has been discussing professional athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, an act originally […]

EDITORIAL: Why are we so burnt out? Hint: It’s not because we are lazy, millennial snowflakes

In the last month three of The VOICE’s five editors quit, and it wasn’t because they wanted more time to […]

55 locals shave their locks to support St. Baldricks cancer research

St. Baldrick’s Foundation hosted a their fifth annual head shaving and auction event to support funding for childhood cancer research […]

Donut miss this local artisan doughnut shop just minutes from campus!

Donuts Time Cafe is seven minutes from Mercer’s West Windsor campus–on Rt. 33 in Hamilton–and it is the perfect destination […]

Music professors teach body awareness tools to help prevent injury

Music professors teach body awareness tools to help prevent injury Joshua Wilson, a Piano Instructor at Mercer County Community College […]

Jersey’s Italian American heritage celebrated at annual festival

The annual Mercer County Italian American Festival ran from Sept. 22-24 and featured entertainment, food, games and amusement rides. The […]

DAY OUT: Grounds for Sculpture

Ten minutes down Edinburg Road is a park called Grounds For Sculpture. There are 42 acres filled with sculptures of […]

Where to go for bagels? We have the answer.

Our of all the bagel places in Mercer County there’s one place that stands: Caesars Bagels & Deli on Flock […]

Jammin’ Crêpes: A culinary classic reinvented with farm to table flare

Until recently, if you had asked me what a crêpe was, my honest answer would have been a flat pancake […]

President Trump’s DACA stance leaves Mercer community shaken and students fearful

Bumba Bat is a recent Rutgers graduate who lives in Ewing Township. His family brought him to the United States […]

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.
Social links powered by Ecreative Internet Marketing