It is a dreary Monday morning in Highland Heights, Kentucky. It has been a long morning too, battling traffic just to fight for a parking spot all before 8 a.m. After sitting through two classes, all you want to do is walk outside, sit down for a minute and smoke a cigarette.’
So you do just that.
You walk outside third-floor Landrum, pop a squat on the wall and light your cigarette.’
‘Excuse me sir, you’re going to have to move to a designated smoking area,’ someone says.
You look up — it is a cop.
Although you are a bit annoyed, you apologize, get up and move to the plaza area where you can enjoy the rest of your cancer stick.
Everyone knows you cannot argue with a cop, it will only get you into more trouble than you would have been in if you had just complied in the first place. Now imagine if it was not a cop, but just a student asking you to move away.
Either way, this is how Northern Kentucky University’s smoking policy is supposed to be handled. Students, professors – anyone – can ask a smoker to move from a non-designated smoking area to a designated area for smokers to puff away at their cigarette.
So far, some people on campus say it’s not working.
‘I don’t think the policy has made a difference,’ Jaime Larimore, a student at NKU, said. ‘I never smoke in a designated area because it’s out of the way.’
It is, of course, a smoker’s right to smoke.’ The policy is not a law and smoking is not illegal. So, what is the incentive to smoke in the designated areas?
‘We try to isolate the smoke so that the rest of the campus isn’t subject to second-hand smoke,’ Student Wellness Manager Maggie Gough said. ‘It’s a matter of everybody being respectful of each other.’
Senior Special Education major Rose Broderick is allergic to smoke.
‘I think they [smokers] have to realize that there will be people that are allergic to smoke,’ Broderick said. ‘I know I try to avoid smoke as much as possible, but when people ignore the policy and smoke right outside building entrances, there is no way to avoid it.’
Since it’s not a law, it seems everyone on campus, smoker or not, has a right to do as they please. The designated smoking areas promote smokers’ respect of non-smokers’ rights. But smokers, like Larimore, don’t weigh in these considerations when lighting up.
‘I am outside. People can deal,’ Larimore said. ‘But if I am asked nicely I don’t mind moving.’
Gough says that politeness is, in fact, the key.
‘When we approach people smoking in a non-designated area, we are not abrasive,’ Gough said.
Broderick has had a different experience.
‘From my experience, when you do ask someone to move they are rude about it,’ Broderick said. ‘It is not just their space – we all share it.’
Although there are conflicting opinions on the topic, Gough says there is hope that policy will take form and have a positive affect on campus.
‘I do think, though, that the more that people who continue to smoke in non-designated areas, the more likely the campus is to go totally smoke-free,’ Gough said. ‘You will eventually lose your privilege if you refuse to comply.’
Karen Simmons, senior Sports Business major, is neutral.
‘As long as you are outside, it doesn’t really bother me,’ Simmons said.
Gough shares, in some part, Simmons’ thoughts and wants smokers to know that they are not being targeted or attacked.
‘I’m sure that sometimes the people that do smoke feel targeted or discriminated against, but that is not at all our intent,’ said Gough. ‘We get it; we get that it is a person’s right to smoke, but they should be respectful to other peoples’ right to breathe clean air.’