Montclair State University officially implemented its final step in transforming the campus with a tobacco-free policy that went into effect Sept. 1.
According to the policy web page, the “current state law and [Montclair State] policy prohibits smoking and/or use of tobacco, vapor or similar products inside any campus building.” Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), cigarettes, oral tobacco, pipes, cigars and water pipes are prohibited on campus. Students, faculty and staff must all comply with the policy.
Dr. Karen Pennington, vice president for student development and campus life, stated the importance of the policy to the campus community.
“It is important because we want our entire community to be safe and healthy,” Pennington said. “It is up to each and every one of us in the community to ensure compliance. We all are affected by it and therefore we have a responsibility to obey the regulation and remind others to do the same.”
Those who do not comply with the tobacco-free policy will be “subject to a fine as determined by the local court where the summons is filed,” as stated on the policy web page.
Pennington also commented on the consequences of not complying with the policy.
“The consequences are that individuals who smoke continue to endanger their health and that of those around them. That is why it is important to abide by the regulations and help others do the same,” Pennington said.
Montclair State moved in this direction back in 2016 when it received a $19,415 grant. According to an article by nj1015.com, “the university had become the only college in the state to receive a grant as part of the American Cancer Society and the CVS Health Foundation’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative.”
In 2017, the university limited smokers to designated areas throughout the campus “at least 25 feet from all entries, outdoor air intakes and operable windows,” according to a university announcement.
New Jersey has had a record for leading campuses across the state toward a smoke-free environment. The Global Advisors Smoke-Free Policy (GASP), “launched its Tobacco-free College Campus Initiative (TFCCI)” in 2012, as stated on njgasp.org. A law put into effect Oct. 21, 2005, required, “dormitories at all New Jersey colleges and universities to be smoke-free.”
Students like Alexa Knight, a senior animation major, believe that policies like this one will encourage students to disregard the policy entirely.
“I feel like not having the proper designated smoking areas on campus lead to students to just smoke on campus anyway in random places,” Knight said.
She also mentioned the impact that policies like this have on current smokers.
“It is very difficult for people to just stop smoking. [Montclair State] should allow specific places like they have in the past for people to smoke. I feel like that would be beneficial,” Knight said.
Tara Rahimi, a senior communication and media arts major, is unaffected by this policy.
“As someone who does not smoke, it doesn’t really affect me so I don’t mind it because I’m sure it is for the best,” Rahimi said.
While Rahimi is not a smoker, she believes smokers within the campus community should be able to make these decisions on their own.
“College is the place for freedom and for students to be able to do whatever they like,” Rahimi said. “I am in no way saying smoking is good for you, but in the end, people are going to do what they want to do because it is their life and their choice.”
If you or a fellow campus community member is in need of support to help transition from smoking, you can visit the university’s tobacco support page for resources.