UA smokers suffer strict policies

By Amy Fredette

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Student smokers who live in UA residence halls are taking it to the streets so that non-smokers can breathe freely in their rooms without the impact of second-hand smoke.

That is, resident smokers are asked to smoke outside because the majority of students checked "NO" on residence hall applications when asked if they smoked, and also indicated that they objected to a smoking roommate, said James Van Arsdel, director of residence life and university housing.

"I think they lied," said Joshua Proctor, a communications freshman and a resident of Apache-Santa Cruz Residence Hall. "Most of the students filled out the information with their parents."

According to the University of Arizona's residence hall standards and regulations, "smoking is not allowed in the UA Residence Halls with the exception of Corleone Apartments and Babcock Inn."

Corleone offers apartment-style housing and Babcock has motel-style housing, as opposed to the other residence halls, which typically have single rooms occupied by one to four people.

Although all UA residence halls have designated smoking areas, students sometimes are asked to smoke at least 50 feet away from the buildings. In some cases, smokers are forced to cross the street to smoke one the curb or in the direct sunlight.

For example, there is a "No Loitering" sign in front of Coronado Residence Hall, 822 E. 5th St., so smokers must smoke across the street, said Chris Christensen, vice president of services for the Residence Hall Association.

"I think it's been pretty fair for smokers," Christensen said.

Some students disagree.

"The policies are completely biased, especially here at Apache-Santa-Cruz," Proctor said.

Proctor said that smokers who live in the residence hall are no longer allowed to smoke in the courtyard located on the north side of the building. Instead, they are expected to smoke beyond the perimeter of the hall.

"It's not just a black-and-white issue of smoking inside or outside of the buildings," Van Arsdel said. "We have an obligation to recognize the fact we know that smoking is a public health problem."

Close to 90 percent of students living in the residence halls requested a substance-free environment this semester, Arsdel said.

"I'm thrilled that students as a group have decided not to smoke," Van Arsdel said.

Holly Avey, health educator for Health Promotion and Preventive Services, said that about 15 percent of UA students are regular smokers.

"Most students are not smoking," Avey said. "In general, there tends to be a correlation between the level of education and the number of people who smoke."

"I like my lungs the way they are," said Matthew Harp, a media arts sophomore and a resident of Gila Hall. "Second-hand smoke will knock you dead."

Harp said another reason he does not smoke is because of the smoking industry itself.

"They really don't care about the consumer," he said. "They try to get kids hooked, so why support that?"

Avey added that the higher a person gets in education, the less likely they are to smoke.

The current smoking policy was started about a year ago as a noise control issue, Van Arsdel said. Students in the residence halls were complaining that other residents were outside making too much noise as early as 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.

The noise issue gradually evolved into a smoking issue because some of the students also smoked.

As a result, different halls have different policies regarding smoking, Van Arsdel said.

"I don't think that we should be able to smoke in the rooms with a non-smoking roommate ... that would be silly," Proctor said. "I think it should be a roommate agreement as opposed to a hall policy."

Proctor said that some of the smokers who live in Apache-Santa Cruz are collaborating with smokers who live in La Paz Hall to create a petition that will allow them to smoke in the courtyards.

Van Arsdel said that residents of Coronado also have circulated a similar petition.

"We've given people all the inside air; why can't we have all the outside air?" Proctor said.

"If students were to come back as a group saying that they didn't like it (the current smoking policies), we would certainly have to listen to them and consider changing the policy," Van Arsdel said.

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