Updated smoking policy is a pain in the ashtray

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Oakland University’s updated Non-Smoking Policy 475, updated November 2012, will officially be underway as of the Fall 2013 semester.

Smoking, which OU defines as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance that contains Tobacco [sic],” will be completely banned on the campus grounds.

Item 3 of the Non-Smoking Policy’s Procedures section reads, “Enforcement of this policy is the responsibility of all.” The policy-makers ask the entirety of Oakland University to be on the lookout for tobacco use, and to report those they see violating the policy.

We envy their optimism but find this more than a little unrealistic.

It isn’t necessarily that we are pro-tobacco or pro-smoking on campus. But it seems naïve to expect students to report one another.

Faculty members or staff members should be reported to their immediate supervisor, dean or director.

Complaints against students are expected to go to the Dean of Students office, after which “The Dean of Students, supervisor, dean or director will investigate and take any needed action to resolve the issue.”

Interim Dean of Students Nancy Schmitz most likely has better things to do than sift through complaints of illicit tobacco use in Oakland University’s secluded areas. At least we hope so, for the student body’s sake.

Two other deans were appointed within the past year, and another dean chair is up for grabs. Operating as a dean while simultaneously getting acclimated is difficult enough. Must we add tobacco tattling to their itineraries?

Even if the deans and supervisors decide they have time to investigate people grabbing a quick puff between classes, how are students supposed to file the complaints?

While the updated Policy 475 offers a phone number at which the Dean of Students Office can be reached, will someone be on call to receive reports? Are students expected to become amateur detectives, obtaining the names and contact information of violators?

If only there was a police department on campus to look out for smokers and investigate tobacco use.

The rationale given for the policy update is, “The University recognizes that Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke is a significant health hazard… studies have shown there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.”

Curiously, though, smoking is still allowed within Meadow Brook Hall, residences within the Meadow Brook subdivision, and the Oakland University golf courses.

Last time we checked, Meadow Brook Hall and the golf courses don’t have magical anti-smoke barriers in place. But they do, on average, have persons of a slightly higher economic status.

The Oakland Post’s editorial board wants a smoke-free campus just as much as the rest of OU. We just want a smoke-free policy that makes sense.