Campus-wide smoking ban for St. Thomas?

Dustin Hassett smokes a cigarette outside the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)
Dustin Hassett smokes a cigarette outside the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)

More than 200 campuses across the nation have gone smoke-free, according to the American Lung Association in Oregon, and St. Thomas junior Ariel Kendall thinks it’s St. Thomas’ turn too.

March 13, Westminster College in Missouri also decided to ban smoking from its campus. The ban will go into effect July 1 and means students, faculty and staff will have to smoke in personal vehicles or off campus grounds.

Kendall began her smoke-free grassroots initiative when she was a freshman, but progress has been slow. Originally she teamed up with Birdie Cunningham, health educator in the Wellness Center. She is now working with Bob Douglas, chair of the Sustainability Committee, who thinks smoking is an environmental issue as much as it is a health issue.

“Part of being sustainable isn’t just about reducing our carbon footprint. It’s living a sustainable life, and smoking is not sustainable,” Douglas said.

Douglas and Kendall both think they need more student support before their work can move forward.

“If there is a student movement, we know that will have more weight with the administrators,” Douglas said. “The students are the clients of the University of St. Thomas, and if it’s something that’s important to them, it becomes more important to the administration.”

Kendall created a Facebook group called “Tobacco-Free UST,” which has 53 members. She has also attended lectures and forums at the University of Minnesota and has had several meetings with St. Thomas faculty and staff members to gain support.

Kendall wants to have the smoking ban implemented to improve the health of the St. Thomas campus and its community members.

“[The U of M] is a huge school, and to know that they are working toward this too, it really says a lot about just smoking in general and the health hazards and what colleges in America [are] really going toward,” she said.

Student reactions

A survey conducted by the Wellness Center in 2007 found that 24.2 percent of St. Thomas students consider themselves smokers. That number was lower than the national average, which was at 28.6 percent that year. The number of smokers at St. Thomas has been steadily decreasing since 2002. The Wellness Center is currently conducting its 2010 survey.

Some student smokers, such as senior Charles Seo, think a smoking ban is unnecessary. But Seo said he wouldn’t mind having designated smoking areas.

Still, others think a smoking ban outdoors is outrageous, such as freshman Emily Shroeder.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Shroeder said. “We’re all outside … To be outside and not be able to smoke on campus? I’d just walk across the street and smoke then. It would do nothing. I just don’t think you should have a smoking ban in a free country. You took it out of bars and restaurants and stuff; you can’t do it on a campus.”

Some non-smokers, including senior Leigh Ann Thul and junior Adam Mallory, don’t necessarily agree with a ban.

“Personally, I am not a fan of smoking, so I would be OK with campus being smoke-free, but I think that would be a big deterrent for a lot of people,” Thul said.

Mallory has friends who smoke and said if they’re following the rules about smoking outside, there shouldn’t be a problem.

“I don’t know what having a campus be smoke-free is going to do for us that the rules in place [don’t] do already,” he said.

Smoking history at St. Thomas

Effective Sept. 1, 1993, St. Thomas banned “smoking in all buildings on the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses and in all university-owned vehicles.” The policy also states that the exception to this rule is in the limited number of smoking lounges in the St. Paul campus.

But this tobacco policy is outdated because no places on campus currently allow smoking indoors..

According to a 1975 Aquin article, a smoking area in the Grill was set up in November of that year, since the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect that August. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act forbade smoking in all indoor areas except those designated as smoking areas. But the Grill’s smoking section was closed in 2005 after a new ordinance was put into effect in Ramsey County prohibiting smoking in restaurants.

Continued efforts

Currently, 15 colleges and universities in Minnesota have successfully gone smoke-free, including Bethel University, Northwestern College, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Winona State University. St. Catherine University and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are both working on becoming smoke-free campuses as well.

For now, Kendall and others will continue to work toward a smoke-free campus at St. Thomas. Right now, their main focus is getting students to band together and work toward this common goal.

“Even if it’s, you know, we get smokers actually following the rule of ’30 feet away’ or if we get more cigarette butts in the receptacles … or maybe it’s getting people to quit or educating people, it’s just taking those steps because it is such a long process,” Kendall said.

Stephani Bloomquist can be reached at

15 Replies to “Campus-wide smoking ban for St. Thomas?”

  1. Who would enforce this? Is this something Public Safety would be writing tickets for? That way we could call them the “Alcohol, Parking, and Smoking Police” ?

  2. “I know many professionals (educated) who will NOT work under smoke-free rules and have quit! So how many of the brightest and best has the professional world lost due to the preference of those less educated? How many business owners have lost everything due to those with their snobby anti-smoker bullying?
    From the Cato Institute:
    The Second-Hand Smoke Charade
    Quote: It now turns out that the influential 1993 EPA report “Respiratory Health Effects of
    Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders” was as phony as a three-dollar bill. State officials and private businesses that believed that ETS was a public health danger (and not just a nuisance) were completely misled by the EPA. And, of course, so was main street American public opinion.”

  3. Since this whole charade of harm from smoke has been fully exposed like global warming,

    there is only one conclusion, total control of a previously free population. But the extreme

    taxation global warming’s cap and trade would bring enrages the same public that allows

    smokers to be outrageously taxed and discriminated against. There is just no other

    explanation feasible! This is just the beginning and people had best wake up very soon!

  4. This isn’t a matter of a rule that will lead to healthier students, smokers are going to smoke as long as THEY want to. They won’t quit when you tell them. Health risks from second-hand smoke outdoors? Please. I understand issues with littering, however, and I am frequently disappointed by the smokers who can’t walk an extra 3 feet to use the receptacles.

    This is a rule to disenfranchise students that offend a select few. We make a small section of the air smell bad for a minute or two. This is a denial of rights based on the personal taste of a minority. Where would you have us go? Would you rather us inflict this upon our neighbors or local businesses? Imagine 24% of students walking over to SA to have a smoke, or standing in front of someone’s house, or sitting in their cars in the lots with their windows down anyway. Are you going to ticket them? Enforcement’s worked so well for the 30′ Rule.

    The rules about not smoking indoors make sense. I would never dream of allowing someone to smoke in my house. It stains and lingers and is a confined space, the outdoors is our refuge.

    Talk to us about the health risks. Educate us about the dangers. Provide receptacles and reminders. Penalize littering. But don’t tread on me.

  5. It’s very interesting to observe even at the university level the skepticism shown towards peer reviewed findings in science. I’m not sure how detractors justify their libels about studies on smoking, or global warming for that matter, but the criticisms are seldom if ever substantiated by any reputable medical or scientific findings. Simply calling research “a charade of harm” is sufficient. The rumor or web-based blog-opinion becomes fact with a worldview with no interest in any scientific research to the contrary. But for the few willing to investigate findings on second hand smoke and how it is related to coronary problems, you could start with the report from the Institute of Medicines of the National Academies at that states: “exposure to secondhand smoke can result in heart disease in
    nonsmoking adults.” There are other published studies that concur about hazards of second hand smoke,but willful ignorance is a difficult obstacle to overcome. Finally, I’m interested if Marlene is a smoker herself and if her comments could be rooted in her own addiction. I do hope it’s not simply disregard for the health of everyone else who shares her environment.

  6. I am all for a ban on smoking on campus. As it is, people don’t stay 30 feet from buildings and, as a consequence, I have to walk through the smoke just to get to my classes or into my residence hall. I’m not a smoker, and I shouldn’t have to inhale it walking in or out of a public building. In my opinion, if you want to hurt yourself by smoking, don’t assume that the rest of us will honor your decision and try to make it easy for you to do so. In what other instance do we try to make things easier for people that are hurting not only themselves but others as well?

  7. Cigarettes are the scourge of the Earth. They need to be eliminated so human kind won’t suffer their wrath anymore. The black lung will then be a thing of the past. 

  8. I think the real goal here is not to reduce the number of smokers at St. Thomas, but to improve the conditions for the 75.8 percent of students who don’t smoke. If you smoke, you will find a way to do it no matter what the circumstances. As a non-smoker, my main problem with the current situation is that smokers don’t tend to go very far out of the way to have a smoke, which means most of them light one up right in front of doors where hundreds of non-smokers pass. Some students even smoke on the way to class, which I find extremely disrespectful. I think the best compromise is to have a couple designated smoking areas on campus away from high traffic flow places. That way, smokers can still enjoy their cigarette on campus without shoving it in the face (or lungs) of non-smoking students.

  9. I feel like this wouldn’t be an issue if the smokers would respect the policy to be at least 50 yards away from the doors of buildings. If you want to smoke, go for it, I can’t stop you (although I might pester you a bit about it) but just respect everyone else. I think that it is more than reasonable to ask you to stay 150 feet from the entrances. I hate that every time I walk to class I have to go through a wall of smoke before I get in the doors. 

    Whether second hand smoke is a sham or not, be respectful. 

  10. I think if the ash trays were as far away from the doors as the policy tells smokers to be, there wouldn’t be so much of this going on.

  11. Marlene is closer than you care to admit. The WHO has been working on how to fool the people about SHS/ETS since 1975 when they were told the only way to get people to stop smoking was to make the public believe that SHS/ETS was killing their children and all the people around them. So, if Cigarettes were to be introduced now it would take many years to get the people brainwashed to swallow this fraud that SHS/ETS WAS KILLING PEOPLE.
    Anyone over 30 has been raised around SHS. If it were as dangerous as they would have us believe, everyone over 30 would be DEAD.
    The longest/largest studies by the ACS, the WHO and over 250 other studies found no connection to Cancer or Heart Disease. It’s about time people were catching on to the fraud.
    The 1993 EPA report has been vacated as a fraud by Federal Judge Osteen and by two Congressional Committees. Why hasn’t the media exposed this? Could it be that they are paid too well to keep it hidden? IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT PROFIT NOT HEALTH. WAKE UP.

  12. If we are subjected to a lie, no matter how ridiculous, 24/7 it won’t be long before the general public will take that lie for the truth. Edwin Bernays used that fact back in the 40’s to become the highest paid Advertising Agent in history. It is still being used today. As long as we have people willing to subjugate others for profit it will never end. All they need are groups of people who are easily fooled to do their dirty work for them.
    Grants (Money) have been used to buy so-called Experts to spread this Fraud of SHS to our Councils/Legislators who are ignorant of the facts. Many know the facts but the Grant money is too good to refuse. After over 10 years of research I have at least 280 studies and 600 in depth reports to attest to the fraud that SHS/ETS kills. If this is true, and it is, there is no reason for business killing Smoking Bans or targeted taxes against smokers.

  13. There are negative health effects no matter what one opinionated article online shows. Lets put the health effects aside for a moment. What about the fact most non-smokers can’t stand the smell and don’t want anything to do with it? A person’s rights only go as far as the next person’s equal and opposite right. By allowing smoking outside buildings, smokers are forcing non-smokers to walk through their cloud of filth. No thank you! I actually hold my breath when I see a smoker coming my way or whenever I have to walk past one which is just about every single time I enter a building at UST. A campus wide ban won’t work because smokers will just loiter across the street and be a nuisance for our neighboring businesses and residents. I’m all for designated smoking areas which are out of the way of regular foot traffic though. Smokers do have a right to inflict harm on themselves, just keep it to yourself.

  14. I don’t care whether or not second hand smoke causes cancer. I get severe migraines from cigarette smoke. I hate having to walk through it or even smell it for a long time on someone else. It makes me physically ill.  I moved to MN about a year ago and my migraines have decreased because my exposure to second hand smoke has decreased. (I moved here from a southern state where they still have smoking sections in restaurants)  And I don’t believe that anyone’s right to smoke (which has no benefit) should outweigh someone else’s right to breathe or not get a migraine. Sorry…if smoking were beneficial, you might have a case…

  15. Smoking sickens and kills. For those reasons alone it is a condemnable activity. However, simply making it “against the rules” to smoke on campus will not stop the behavior. For real change to occur, we must help the individual smoker understand the reasons that they engage in this self destructive behavior. Treating this addictive behavior sooner will lead to a healthier and more prosporous future for graduates of the University of St. Thomas. The time for change is now. RIP Michael “Carson” Larson. Love Dad.

Comments are closed.