By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
Faculty and administration voted recently to deny a motion to transition Furman into a tobacco-free campus.
The proposal, which failed by a seven-vote margin, would have banned both smoking and the use of smoke-free tobacco on all university property, including inside cars within campus boundaries.
Bill Pierce, professor of health sciences and faculty representative on the tobacco-free policy committee that drafted the proposal, says the policy would have allowed Furman to join more than 1,600 other colleges and universities in paving the way for smoking cessation.
“The goal of the policy is to educate and influence behavior regarding tobacco use,” Piece said. “The committee overwhelmingly feels that the derived benefits from adoption of this policy greatly outweigh any possible consequences resulting from the loss of individual freedoms associated with tobacco use while on campus.”
Other faculty disagreed, believing that additional restrictions would approach overregulation and would force students and faculty off campus regularly, some who had no personal transportation to do so in a safe or time-efficient manner. The dissenting group also questioned if objects such as cars and lawnmowers should be banned due to harmful emissions.
“There is indeed a cost to this policy, but if we can lower the number of people that use tobacco, the health and well-being of our community will be greatly improved,” Pierce said on behalf of the committee.
The decision comes during a time of many other large changes to the university structure, including the appointment of a new interim dean of faculty and director of the Shi Center.
Former Furman President Rod Smolla appointed a committee to consider tobacco-free policies in December of 2012, and the committee returned a recommendation for the move in spring of 2013. After Smolla’s resignation and subsequent presidential turnover, current president Elizabeth Davis reactivated the committee in the 2014-2015 academic year.
Furman’s current tobacco policy, drafted in 2002, permits smoking on campus if it allows 25 feet from any building entrance or operable window, and restricts usage in outdoor stadiums during games. Some feel this policy is not being enforced campuswide, as smokers frequent areas close to buildings like Furman and Johns Hall.
Though two students were appointed by SGA president Joe Fretwell to be part of this decision, some students felt as though they had been left out of the discussion.
Pierce claims that the decision did not involve the student body at large because the 2002 decision for which revision was proposed came from faculty and staff alone.
There is no indication as of now that the decision will be reviewed or appealed.