About the Tobacco Free Policy

In response to “The punitive effects of the new tobacco-free”

In response to an opinion piece in the April 15 issue of The Observer by Kate Rasberry on the proposed Tobacco-Free Policy.

The author of the opinion piece on the tobacco-free policy begins with a misleading statement, which does not set a great tone for the rest of the column. She implicitly claims that the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) has endorsed the proposed tobacco-free policy. The resolution that the author references—General Assembly Bill B. 25-14, hereafter referred to as “tobacco referendum”—was indeed passed on March 29, 2016. However the basis of the bill was only to poll the undergraduate population of Case Western Reserve University on their view on a proposed tobacco free policy, if they would be in favor or against such a policy and if they had any recommendations. Neither USG nor its members in any way stated that they were in favor of or against the proposed policy. The author seems to believe that USG asking for a referendum from the whole campus is the same thing as proposing a tobacco-free campus, which is blatantly false and misleading.

The author also states that the proposed policy is “a punitive, insensitive showpiece of legislation.” Once again, I must reiterate, the proposed policy is not a piece of legislation created by USG. However the basis of the proposed policy, as explained by the main architect, Case Western Reserve University Medical Director of CWRU Elizabeth Click, is not to be enforcement-based but compliance-based. In addition, the proposed policy only makes the use of tobacco and other such products on campus forbidden but makes no mention of off campus locations, which are in close proximity to this university. The proposed policy also states that the university will provide cessation programs for anyone who wishes to stop using tobacco products.

The author claims that the proposed policy regarding e-cigarettes is absurd, as it helps with getting over a tobacco addiction. While that may or may not be true, the proposed policy is based on the policies of many other schools, all of which include e-cigarettes in their tobacco-free policies.

The author refers to the proposed policy as creating a zero-tolerance and prohibition-esque environment. That is an incredibly misleading argument, since just the use of such items on campus is against the proposed rule, not the possession of them.

The tobacco referendum that went out to the university population barely passed, 52 percent to 48 percent in favor of the ban, with about 30 percent of the student body participating. The election and the tobacco referendum were widely advertised through emails, newsletters, etc. That means nearly 70 percent of the student body is either indifferent or simply does not care about this proposed policy change. The author claims, “We should pay attention to what active smokers have to say with the issues with smoking on campus.” However numerous outlets were given for these very people to do such a things as participating in the Tobacco-Free Sub Committee, which was open to any student; participating in the Tobacco-Free Open Forum one week before the vote; or simply just voting on the referendum.

If students truly feel that the policies—or proposed policies—of the university upset them, I suggest that they approach USG and for any issues within the residence halls, the Residence Hall Association. Ignorance to these resources is not an excuse as the information is readily available. These groups want to help make this university a better place, but they cannot do so unless they actually know what issues need to be fixed.