UConn To Ban Smoking In Campus Dorms
STORRS -- The University of Connecticut has decided to snuff out smoking in dormitories by fall 2003, anticipating a bill that proposes to ban smoking in dorms at all state universities.
Starting next fall, nearly half the residence halls will become smoke-free, university officials said. The rest will ban smoking the following fall.
State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, has introduced a bill to bar smoking at UConn and Connecticut State University dorms. The bill is being reviewed in committee.
After a similar bill failed last year, Klarides met with UConn and Connecticut State University officials to try to persuade them to act. She said Wednesday she is pleased about UConn's decision as well as Southern Connecticut State University's recent announcement that its dorms will go smoke-free next fall. Western Connecticut State University is already smoke-free, Karides said.
UConn students said Wednesday that while they generally favor the new policy, some believe it is unfair to smokers.
"I don't smoke, so I think it's a good idea," said Samiat Brown, 21, of New York City. "But for people who do smoke, it's not fair for them to be forced to go outside to smoke. The legal age to smoke is 18, so they should be allowed to smoke in their rooms."
Only two residence halls are smoke-free at UConn - Hilltop Suites and Northwest - and a couple of floors in two other residence halls have been designated as smoke-free.
Only about 1 percent - or 178 - of the undergraduates at UConn identified themselves as smokers on their housing applications this year, said Carole S. Henry, executive director of housing and food services at UConn. Henry believes that number is artificially low, driven by students who may smoke socially but describe themselves as non-smokers because they don't want to end up with a smoker as a roommate.
"They don't want their room to smell," Henry said.
Henry said she tried to bring up the smoking ban three years ago before UConn's Residence Hall Association, but students weren't interested. There has been little reaction from students, she said.
"The students don't really question this. That's what they expect in our society," Henry said.
Nationally, at least 18 other universities have adopted no-smoking policies, including the University of New Hampshire. The trend began 12 to 15 years ago and some colleges are taking it a step further by offering substance-abuse-free dorms, said Gary J. Schwarzmueller, executive director of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.
Klarides said she proposed the bill because she found dormitory smoking inconsistent with a state law prohibiting smoking in other state buildings.