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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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CWRU’s next marketing move: go tobacco free

From the Mafia

There have been rumors that Case Western Reserve University will go smoke-free sometime in the future, but with only rumors in the mix, this change seems far off.

However, in light of a new draft policy that is being quietly circulated amongst staff and administrative leadership, the campus may make the switch in time for the fall semester.

The draft, which you can read online, takes a principled stance against all tobacco products citing health as the motivator for preventing their use on campus. Practically, the new policy has nearly non-existent consequences for violators:

Students who smoke, or use tobacco products, in violation of this policy will be reminded of the policy and asked to stop.

The policy does threaten citations and fines for students who don’t see the light after being politely asked to stop, but if enforcement is anything like what we see with the current policy, the likelihood of a fine for even the most persistent violators will be nearly zero.

Given the veil surrounding the topic and the slap-on-the-wrist approach to enforcement, it seems that the new policy isn’t meant to coercively convert smokers from their unhealthy ways, but rather will become a new arrow in the university’s marketing quiver.

By going tobacco-free, the university will be one of the first top-50 comprehensive institutions to join a list made up largely of religious and state schools. But is being on the vanguard of tobacco-free schools worth the trouble?

At the very least, the university could build internal buy-in and hash out the unpleasant points of the policy by making it vulnerable to criticisms from all campus members. But that doesn’t seem likely. The draft was secretly circulated and revised and will likely be approved by the administration before being publicly aired for the first time. It may be a pro for public health, but will come at the expense of organizational health.

A new weekly contributor to The Observer, CWRU House Mafia is a blog beyond The Daily that strives to engage and develop a deeper sense of community at Case Western Reserve University. They’re only a click away at

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