On Tuesday morning Robert Turning, Director of Student Activities, sent the entire undergraduate community an email revealing the results from the Smoking Ban Survey that went on throughout the SGA elections. The majority, at 52.7 percent and 1540 votes, felt that smoking should be banned on the Hopkins campus. About 37.7 percent of voters went against the ban with 1079 votes and another 241 votes, or 8.4 percent, abstained.
The survey’s results are the first step in the debate over whether to ban smoking on campus. Hopkins Kicks Butts, the Anti-Tobacco Coalition, is one of the groups who worked to make this survey happen.
“The purpose of the survey was simply to gauge how students feel about making campus smoke-free. This was one early step out of many toward potentially putting the ban into effect,” Hopkins Kicks Butts wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
The survey was done for President Ron Daniels to decipher student opinion on the matter.
“At the present time the vote means very little except a statement of student opinions. The results will be passed on to President Daniels who will decide if an exploratory committee is worth forming,” junior Michael St. Germain, Executive Treasurer of the SGA, said.
The results from the undergraduate portion of Hopkins are the first of many steps to decide if smoking should be banned on campus. Surveys and opinions are still being given in the several other institutions that are part of Hopkins. Faculty opinion will also be taken into account in order to have a better gauge on how Hopkins feels about smoking.
“If the administration does choose to move in that direction, then the next step will be to form a Steering Committee. The Committee will be composed of student leaders as well as faculty and staff representatives (perhaps from Housing & Dining, Greek Life, Design and Construction, ResLife, Security, etc.) and will discuss the specifics of enforcing the ban. As a result, we cannot tell you what the penalties will be for smoking if Hopkins does go smoke-free because that is something that has yet to be determined by the Steering Committee,” Hopkins Kicks Butts wrote.
Junior Chase Hamilton was one of the students who showed support for the ban.
“I just feel that at one of the world’s most well renowned institutions in the field of health, it only makes sense to oppose cigarette smoking on campus,” Hamilton said.
Though over half the student population felt that smoking should be banned from campus, many students held strong feelings in opposition. For freshman Ariel Zahler, the issue represented something more than just a matter of smoking.
“While I am personally a non-smoker, I feel that Hopkins should not have the power to curb the students’ right to choice,” Zahler said.
Some students, on the other hand, felt that the survey did not provide enough options for students to voice their opinions on the issue. For freshmen Emily Schoenfeld, the poll left out the option for compromise.
“I understand where the initiative is coming from, however it’s not going to change the fact that there are students and faculty who smoke. Somebody working late on campus shouldn’t have to walk far just to smoke a quick cigarette,” Schoenfeld said. “I get wanting to live in a smoke-free environment but designating smoking and nonsmoking areas seems more realistic to me than an overall ban on smoking.”