Policy C16.0, left untouched for decades, has resurfaced in order to add some changes. C16.0 details the procedures for how smoking is handled on campus. The current version restricts smoking in any indoor area and prohibits smoking within 25 feet of any residential building. The committee overlooking the policy aims to make stricter changes for a potentially healthier RIT.

The policy change was most recently presented to Student Government (SG) on January 31. Donna Rubin, assistant vice president for wellness initiatives, and Mike Stojkovic, assistant director for wellness, were the co-chairs for the committee and presented the proposed changes to SG, the academic senate and institute council. If enacted, the new policy would ban all tobacco products on all university owned property. The ban would include cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes, e-cigarettes and hookah. The change was presented to reflect RIT’s wellness initiative and to update the policy, which hasn’t been changed since its creation in 1984.

The committee that is charge of the policy was established in 2012, and includes both faculty and students. They also enlisted help from Ty Patterson, executive director of the National Center for Tobacco Policy, for additional guidance. The team was organized by the university itself to review the policy and recommend changes.

Nationally, there has been large movement to remove smoking on more college campuses. The committee has been looking at peer intuitions for guidance on what to change in addition to obtaining information from RIT students. They have considered many other ideas for the policy change, such as restricting smoking to certain areas or zones, but the committee was told to steer away from that idea. “[The implementation of smoking zones] is something we had considered,” said Rubin. He went on to elaborate, though. “When we spoke to other campuses that had done that, they were sorry and cautioned us against it.”

When the presented changes were shown to SG, they were met with strong feedback. Tristan Wright, director of student relations for SG, disliked the moralistic language of branding smokers as “antagonistic” or causes of bad health. He expressed that he did not approve of a total ban but is more okay with smoking zones. Paul Darragh, SG President, stated that he would personally prefer a smoke free campus but in order to better reflect student opinion would prefer if smoking were banned on the quarter mile and near buildings. He also dislikes e-cigs and hookah being included in the proposed ban because he felt that not enough research has been done on the products and students generally use them privately.

After interviewing a random sample of 50 students on campus, this reporter found that only 15 people knew about the policy, all of them having heard about it through reddit or Reporter’s previous SG Update. 28 students were against the policy, with many suggesting restricting smoking to certain areas. In Rubin’s own research, she had also gotten mixed results from students with some wanting the ban and others expressing interest in less strict versions of the policy.

The policy will undergo review and changes during the month of March. The committee will meet with Academic Senate on March 6 in Louise Slaughter Hall (SLA), rooms SLA-2230 and 2240, before deciding further changes. Rubin is planning to hold a public forum sometime in March for students to voice their opinions before final changes are made. Institute council will vote on the policy during the May 7 meeting in SLA-2230 and 2240.