WESTMINSTER — Responding to an initiative put forth by a student, Western MarylandCollege has established a smoke-free policy for nearly all public areas on the campus.
The policy was put into effect April 1, after receiving unanimous recommendation by the All-College and Administrative Councils and final approval by President Robert H. Chambers III.
All public areas of the campus have been designated smoke-free zones, with the exception of the enclosed fireplace room in the Decker College Center Pub (the college grille and snack bar, which is open to all community members), private offices and residence hall rooms, faculty lounges (as determined by faculty), and specially designated smoking rooms or areas in residence halls, as determined by student residence hall governments.
Brett Cohen, a junior majoring in business administration, started the drive for a new policy last fall by getting information on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke from the the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association. He then addressed his concerns in a letter to Philip R. Sayre, vice president and dean of student affairs.
"Dean Sayre wrote back and said he would communicate my suggestion about a non-smoking policy to people around the campus," Cohen recalled. "Then I met with him and he said I should take my suggestion to the All-College Council. The policycame out of that."
Cohen, the son of Armand and Judith Cohen of Ambler, Pa., said he believes the policy will be effective, making it easier for community members to live and work in a smoke-free environment.
"It's definitely a good policy for students and everybody else on campus," he said.
The All-College Council,co-chaired by the college president and the president of the Student Government Association,is made up of students, faculty, staff and administrators, all of whom meet to review and recommend policy for WMC. The Administrative Council consists of senior-level administrators,who also review andrecommend policy for the institution. Both councils' recommendationsgo to the college president, who has final approval on policy matters.
Sayre said the college established the non-smoking policy to provide a smoke-free environment for all community members.
"There is considerable scientific evidence of serious health hazards for smokers and others caused by second-hand smoke," Sayre wrote in an open letter to the college community. "The policy is designed to protect the health and well-being of the entire community."
Signs indicatingsmoke-free zones have been placed in various public areas to alert the community to the new policy. No one will be asked to stop smoking altogether, but information, referrals and assistance in smoking cessation are provided free of charge by the Student Health Services.
"It's not easy to stop smoking," said Marlene Clements,director of Student Health Services. "Nicotine has been proven to be the most addictive substance known. That's why we're offering this support to anyone who wants to quit."
Clements said a small number of students already have completed the individualized cessation program,and so far,they are reporting complete success in breaking their smoking habit. The program is administered by Sharon Ann Skozilas, college health nurse, who has received special training in smoking cessation by the American Lung Association.