IUP Finds it Hard to Quit

Enforcement of smoking ban non-existent.

By Michael Bowser

INDIANA–Leah Bambino, 21, a junior art studio major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania., is troubled by tobacco smoke on campus every day. She recalls a time when she was surrounded by a smoke cloud while walking out of a class.

“It smelled like a bar,” said Bambino while sitting in the Oak Grove on Feb. 25. “It’s annoying walking on campus. My pea coat still smells like smoke.”

Bambino is one of many non-smoking students angered by a lack of enforcement of IUP’s September 2008 smoking ban.

On Sept. 11, the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act (“an act … prohibiting smoking in enclosed and substantially enclosed areas”) went into effect. On the same day, the State System of Higher Education imposed an additional ban on smoking outdoors at all 14 of its campuses – including IUP.

“The act prohibits smoking on educational facilities,” said SSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall during a Feb. 19 telephone interview from Harrisburg. “We met with university presidents. It was a system decision to ban smoking on all portions of campus.”

At IUP, no-smoking signs were posted across campus. But some students ignore of the policy.

“A security guard stopped me once and told me to die out my cigarette,” said Aaron L. Richardson, 22, a junior communications media major, as he puffed a Newport in front of Stapleton Library on Feb. 12. “I pay too much tuition to feel obligated not to smoke.”

For the first academic year under the indoor-outdoor smoking ban, officials can show no record of enforcement, either by campus police or by state Health Department workers, who were handed enforcement responsibilities months after the policy went into effect.

But the lax enforcement effort will change, according to Helen Kennedy, associate vice president of the IUP Human Resources Department.

“This whole thing came up on us fast,” Kennedy said on Feb. 20 in her office in Sutton Hall. “Right now we are trying to educate and change people rather than fine them. We would like to be completely smoke-free by fall of 2010.”

This would be too late for Bambino, who predicts that she will graduate before the ban is enforced.

“It should have been enforced immediately,” said Bambino. “I don’t like getting cancer everyday.”

Michael Bowser, a May 2009 graduate of the IUP journalism program, is from Ford City.

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