Where there’s smoke…

Smoking tobacco is a centuries’ old custom that has come under increasing regulation in many countries over the years due to a steady flow of research revealing the negative health effects of this habit. Ohio banned smoking in many public places in 2006, and Cleveland employers like the Cleveland Clinic have workplace smoking bans and refuse to hire smokers.

Here at Case Western Reserve University, it was decided in 2007 to restrict smoking on campus to designated areas, marked by signage—usually areas offset from buildings and walkways. Smoking on university property outside of these areas is a policy violation. A map of designated locations can be found online. CWRU Police & Security Services has been given the authority to issue citations to students and staff found in violation of the policy. Without getting into a debate on the pros or cons of smoking, that is the current policy.

The policy seems simple on paper, but not so much in practice. This is something to keep in mind, as the possibility of a campus-wide smoking ban is being discussed. Smoking is a violation of university policy, but it is not against the law (if you are over 18) on areas like public sidewalks, meaning if someone chooses to walk down Adelbert Road smoking a king-sized cigar, they can do so as long as they don’t veer onto university property. If designated smoking areas are done away with, more smokers might take to the sidewalks—something to think about. Additionally, University Circle, University Hospital and CWRU are visited by hundreds of people each day who are not staff or students here and for whom a polite reminder about the university policy is about all that can be done.

Issuing smoking citations is usually not one of our officers’ favorite activities, usually because it involves a conversation with staff and students that either starts with “Do you know who I am?” (No, I don’t, actually—why don’t you show me your CWRU ID?) or “I pay xxx number of dollars to go here and you’re giving me a citation for smoking?” (See policy above). So if you are a smoker, please respect the current policy, and if you aren’t a smoker, please be aware of the limitations on enforcement, and hopefully a happy medium can be reached.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko & Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. Send feedback to this or other columns at policecolumn@case.edu.