Boucher clarifies Tech tobacco policy

Tech’s no-smoking policy went into effect in 2010, but there are still misconceptions about what the policy entails.The policy states, “Effective Jan. 1, 2010, TTU is a No-Smoking and Tobacco- Free Campus, with all smoking (‘herbal’ and tobacco) and all other tobacco usage permitted only in private vehicles. This policy applies to all University buildings and grounds.”

Ed Boucher, dean of students, said, “Somehow, rumors have gotten around, and it has created this misconception that people can smoke on the sidewalks that border campus. Everyone needs to know that this is a no-smoking campus for everyone-students, employees and visitors-and that smoking is only allowed inside private vehicles.”

This policy seems simple but has met with some opposition on campus.

“I understand why it is banned in high traffic areas,” Bob Novick, junior English major, said. “However, banning it on a campus of a public university altogether is extreme, authoritarian and dismissive of basic rights. There could at least be areas where it is okay to smoke.”

The idea of designated smoking areas is not new. When trying to create the new policy, University representatives considered installing smoking rooms in residence halls and some other buildings on campus.

“Once we actually looked at the cost of construction plus the ventilation systems these rooms would require, we realized that it just wasn’t feasible,” Boucher said.

However, not all of the reaction to the policy has been negative.

“I like having the no- smoking policy because it was always such a nuisance when I would walk into a building and the smoke would follow,” GeriAnna Wilson, a junior journalism major said. “It just really bothers people who aren’t smokers.”

Though the policy states that it applies to “all University buildings and grounds,” there are still some who question what this statement includes.

“One question everybody wants to ask is ‘Who owns the sidewalks?'” Boucher said. “Well, the Tennessee Code Annotated and the Tennessee Board of Regents policy state that the University Police have statutory authority over these areas. I’ve looked at policies from other universities in the state, and they have very similar regulations to the ones we put into effect here.”

While the policy brings with it some controversy and inconvenience, it is still relatively new.

“These things tend to have a life cycle,” Boucher said. “Students who came in several years ago and were accustomed to smoking on campus don’t like it. However, the incoming students who never knew Tech as a smoking-friendly campus don’t usually mind. Give it a few years, and people will be more used to it and know what it means.