Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 21, 2024

Starting on April 5, the undergraduate student body will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to make Hopkins a smoke-free campus. Although the vote is only to gauge student interest, not on whether smoking should be currently banned, it presents an opportunity to express your opinion on an Hopkins policy. The vote is open until Tuesday, April 9, and will be available online.

The effort to make Hopkins a smoke-free campus is spearheaded by Hopkins Kicks Butts, a student group within the Center for Health and Education Wellness. They are dedicated to educating about tobacco use and eliminating on-campus smoking.

Hopkins Kicks Butts (HKB) was proposed in 2008, after loosely gathering signatures and interest for several years. In 2009, they began efforts to make Hopkins a smoke-free campus by 2012, suggesting a 15 dollar dollar fine for smoking thereafter.

In 2010, SGA ruled against their efforts to ban smoking on campus but conceded to move the ashtrays further from buildings. At the time, SGA was “strongly opposed to the imposition of a blanket ban on smoking on the Homewood campus,” according to a statement released at the time. 19 members were in favor of this statement, with only 7 (less than 27 percent) opposed.

HKB wants to ban smoking not only in service of personals opinions or the desires of non-smokers, but also because of Hopkins’ reputation as a medically-minded school, faculty and student interest as established through petitions, and recommendations for smoke-free campuses from the American College Health Association, the American Cancer Society, and the media.

In addition, they cite various statistics about youth smoking. The Center for Disease Control says that 85 percent of adults who smoke started when they were 21 or younger. HKB’s website also pulls a statistic from the 2012 Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26.

774 colleges and universities nationwide have already created smoke-free campuses. According to a review of 30 smoke-free campuses done by the University of Southern California, these programs can lower the number of students who begin smoking as well as reducing the number of existing smokers by 20 percent.

Moreover, alumnus and donor Bloomberg’s recent efforts to limit smoking in New York suggest he would support this ban.

Still, student opinion about a non-smoking campus at Hopkins remains mixed.

Danny Salevitz, a senior who doesn’t smoke, supports the ban.

“I wouldn’t say we have a big problem with lots of smokers around campus, but a ban would support the school’s desire to have a green campus,” Salevitz said.

“We shouldn’t let our pristine brick and marble oasis be defiled by the cigarettes present on campus,” sophomore James Gwila added.

Other supporters, such as non-smoker Jacob Wildfire, return to science.

“How can a university so grounded in scientific research ignore of deny the negative effects of smoking?” Wildfire asked.

On the other side, a smoker who wishes to remain anonymous, argues that smoking is a relatively minor problem.

“I cannot believe that a few smokers affect everyone else's health more than the traffic on North Charles,” she said. “The statistics to which the promoters of the ban refer seem superficial and biased — I believe we need more comprehensive studies before making such a bold statement.”

She went on to comment how a smoking ban would not only affect students — faculty and staff who smoke on campus would also be hampered by such a ban.

Freshman Emily Sexton suggested focusing on the much more ubiquitous (and illegal) drinking instead.

Regarding statistics, HKB does only cite data that supports their cause, and often presents the statistics or references facts without explicitly citing them.

“Because the ban would likely remove disposal spots from campus, it’s liable to backfire and increase litter, and resistance from smokers on campus will limit efficacy regardless,” freshman Juliana Vigorito said.

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