All forms of smoking, including the use of vaporizers, vape pens and e-cigarettes, will be prohibited on Chapman’s campus beginning Feb. 1 because of the health risks associated with secondhand smoke. The new policy follows a trend of thousands of college campuses going smoke- and tobacco-free nationwide.
While Chapman’s Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine has been smoke-free since it opened in 2014, the main campus in Orange had a policy that prohibited smoking in buildings and within 20 feet of building entrances, residence halls and apartment doors and windows, according to the Chapman University Student Conduct Code.
“Ultimately (the change in the conduct code) will be an on-campus culture shift,” said Student Government President Josh Nudelman. “What I’m looking for is in five years, (students) won’t even be able to remember when they were able to smoke on campus.”
Jerry Price, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, said that the university is using the policy to advocate a healthier lifestyle.
Becky Campos, vice president of human resources, who, along with Price, was involved in the implementation of the policy, shared a similar sentiment.
“We emphasize that we want to encourage more of a culture shift here on campus via education, providing people with more information about that and also providing them access to areas for if they want to quit smoking,” Campos said.
The new policy’s enforcement is based mainly on peers holding one another accountable, with the policy stating that “the success of the policy depends on the thoughtfulness, civility and cooperation of all members of the campus community, including visitors.” Repetitive infractions and ongoing, unresolved issues regarding the policy will be addressed by human resources and the dean of students, according to the updated conduct code.
“I think that the policy, as written, allows to accentuate the health promotion aspect of the policy and downplays the notion of a punitive side,” Price said.
The university has not decided what the appropriate action will be for people that fail to follow the new policy, according to Campos.
“We didn’t want this to become a burden for either (Price’s) office or my office in having to write people up or take disciplinary actions or investigations and that sort of thing, so we just said that we want people to encourage each other to adhere to the policy,” Campos said. “But if there are some egregious infractions or some serious ongoing issues that remain unresolved, then the appropriate administrative process would handle it.”
Nudelman and former Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Senator Henry Callander started the smoke-free campus initiative early in the fall semester. Nudelman had first heard of the idea of having a smoke-free campus a few years ago from a former student government senator, but the idea did not get much traction at the time.
To understand if the campus community was in favor of this change, student government sent a survey to students to understand if they were in favor of a smoke-free campus. About 10 percent of the student body answered the survey with more than 75 percent responding in favor of a smoke-free campus, according to Nudelman.
After the idea was affirmed by student government, it was brought to senior staff members. The idea had not been considered until Nudelman and Callander brought it to the staff members’ attention, according to Harold Hewitt, Chapman’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“I wouldn’t say that for me personally it is a huge priority, but I have to say that the leadership on campus was persuaded by student leadership and the core issue is health. The research on the ill effects of smoking and secondhand smoke are so thoroughly documented.” Hewitt said. “I think everyone is sort of in favor of being considerate of others especially regarding secondhand smoke. When people don’t smoke, why should they be exposed?”
Where will the smokers go?
Before the policy was affirmed, Nudelman and Callander presented to the faculty senate as well as a forum of faculty and staff, allowing them to ask questions and raise concerns.
One of the major concerns when creating the policy was where smokers would go if they could not smoke on campus.
The sidewalk surrounding campus is the property of the city of Orange, therefore students are able to smoke in those areas rather than going across the street near people’s homes, Nudelman said.
Callander also said that a Chapman professor who lives next to the smoke-free California State University, Long Beach campus told him that she has never had a problem with students smoking by her house.
“That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a problem at Chapman, but we aren’t too concerned about that,” Callander said. “We’ve talked about the possibility of moving trash cans and ashtrays closer to the sidewalk, because ashtrays are what people usually surround themselves around. If there is an ashtray, people are just going to smoke next to it.”
The ashtrays have not been moved and additional signs declaring the campus smoke-free have not yet been added. The resources and budget to do so would come from student government, according to the Price.
To read students’ reactions to the new smoking policy, click here.