Temple University goes ‘smoke free,’ and then some

A flag hangs on campus at Temple University (WHYY file photo)

A flag hangs on campus at Temple University (WHYY file photo)

Temple University enacted a tobacco-free campus policy earlier this week, joining some 2,100 other institutions with smoking bans.

The new policy applies to all Temple campuses and all university events.

Jennifer Ibrahim, an associate dean in the university’s College of Public Health, said the Temple policy goes further than most — it applies to dip, snuff and especially to vapes.

“A lot of teens are now growing up with this idea that using e-cigarettes is a safer alternative,” Ibrahim said, “and we know from the evidence that’s being generated from the scientific community that that’s not the case.”

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Banning vapes seemed OK with Jager Gardner, an undergraduate majoring in adult and organizational development.

“Sometimes, when I’m walking to class, I smell it and it’s like, ‘Dang, that really stinks,” he said, referring to vape smoke. “Like, I really don’t like the smell of it.”

Ibrahim said officers won’t be handing out tickets to violators of the ban. Instead, smokers will be asked to stop and given cards with smoking-cessation information.

It’s what she called “compassionate enforcement.”

“The goal of this isn’t to punish students, isn’t to have a gotcha moment,” Ibrahim said. “We don’t want to demonize smokers. This is really about making the campus healthier.”

Michelle Nicoletta, a university administrator and former smoker, said it’s about time.

“I don’t want to hate on these students because I was a smoking student as well, but when it gets near the doorways or I have to walk through a huge cloud of smoke and it’s detrimental to my health — that’s a problem,” Nicoletta said. “I’m looking forward to the ban.”

Her colleague Meghan Duffy also welcomed the ban, but she said she’s not getting her hopes up.

“I don’t know if it’ll actually work because we’ve had the 25-foot ban [from building entrances] for a while, and I see some people smoking right outside constantly,” Duffy said. “Just this morning, these construction workers were just puffing away right in my face.”

Of course, not everyone’s a fan of the ban. Another staffer who didn’t want to give her name called it “paternalistic.”

“It’s when a larger institution likes to breach on your personal freedoms when it’s not an overtly lethal situation,” she said. “You shouldn’t smoke, but it’s ultimately the person’s decision.”

And what about Ibrahim’s compassionate enforcement, helping people quit?

“I quit for a year and a half,” the staffer said. “And then I started it again because I like it.”

She pulled out a pack of Marlboro Reds, and lit up.

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