Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Peer Schools Seek to Curb Smoking; Georgetown Stalls

About 500 campuses in the United States are now smoke-free, but Georgetown does not look to be joining their ranks in the near future.

Yale University plans to survey faculty and students this month about their support for the ban, according to The Yale Daily News, leading the debate among peer universities about the possibility of tightening their smoking policies.

Georgetown is not a smoke-free campus and has no plans to instate a ban, according to Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh.

“At Georgetown, we are committed to maintaining an environment that is reasonably free from tobacco smoke,” Pugh said. “While there are no current plans to change this policy on the main campus, we are continuing to explore new ways of promoting a culture of wellness at Georgetown.”

While Georgetown has yet to take further action regarding its current smoking policies, some faculty would like to see the university follow its peer institutions into stricter regulations.

“Smoke-free environments will be a reality soon. Starting this on college campuses, where minds are being formed, makes sense to me,” biology professor Maria Donoghue said.

Though Georgetown is not a smoke-free campus, the university does have smoking restrictions in order to promote the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, Pugh said. These include a prohibition on smoking in all indoor locations on campus, which has been in place since the 1980s. The university allows smoking only in designated areas that are at least 25 feet from building entrances, outdoor air intakes and windows, according to Pugh.

There is a fear that the bans would infringe upon individual liberties, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, but government professor Richard Boyd said that a university ban on smoking would not infringe upon the rights of students and employees.

“The university is no different from any other place of business — say, an office, restaurant, or hotel. Like any other private association, the university is free to establish terms of usage or conduct on their property or within their workplace,” Boyd said. “If patrons or employees don’t like these terms of service or policies, the assumption is that they are free to eat, stay or work elsewhere.”

Government professor Stephen Wayne agreed that Georgetown would be entitled to impose such a smoking ban.

“The university can impose rules on the grounds that aren’t necessarily applicable to everyone in the District,” he said. “A ban does limit autonomy, but in a way, given what we know scientifically about smoke, that is beneficial for society.”

According to a 2006 American Lung Association report, almost 20 percent of college students were smokers at the time. At that time, the organization urged colleges to ban smoking on campuses.

If a ban were to be implemented, however, it could potentially deter students from coming to the university. Wayne said that it could have a greater impact on the enrollment decisions of international students, given the greater recreational uses of cigarettes in other cultures and societies.

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