MY PAYING ADS

Saturday, October 15, 2011

MT: Ban places smokers in dangerous situations

I think U of Montana needs to realize you can't force ANY student to quit smoking. And making a female student's safety more risky (while she smokes outside of her dorms at nite) is NOT normal.

But hey, that's the "F**k smokers!" mindset most nonsmokers have in modern times, Smokers shouldn't be ignored when their safety is at risk.

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ARTICLE LINK

Young women are discouraged from walking across campus alone at night. Most of the University of Montana stays well-lit, but dark shadows still creep across the grass and the flashing blue lights of emergency phones can seem far apart.

With the new smoking ban, young women living in the dorms must now walk to the edge of campus for a cigarette.

Chief of Campus Security Gary Taylor said this issue has not been fully addressed yet.

"We're forcing girls into a dangerous situation," he said.

Freshman Emma Brunckhorst agrees.

She said she's glad she lives in Jesse Hall because it's right beside the designated smoking area on campus.

Freshman Michelle Beckenhauer doesn't feel so lucky. Living in Jesse Hall's twin, Aber Hall, she's a half-mile from where her peers smoke.

"I just end up breaking the rule and smoke right outside Aber," Beckenhauer said.

Taylor admits the distance of some dorms from the smoking-friendly rim around campus could increase the risk for students. He plans to bring the issue up in the next Tobacco Task Force meeting.

"We've tried so hard to get people to smoke off campus that we never considered these girls," Taylor said.

Public Safety responded to four attempted rapes, four aggravated assaults and two robberies on campus between 2007 and 2010, according to the 2010 Public Safety Crime Statistics report. Six of those incidents happened in dorms or university-owned apartments. In the same report, the Student Assault Resource Center said that only 13 percent of sex crime victims they've worked with in the same time period reported the incident to Public Safety or the Missoula Police.

Linda Green, the director of Health Enhancement for the Curry Health Center, said she hopes students will follow the smoking ban despite the hazards of walking alone across campus. While students cannot be ticketed for smoking on campus, they can be written up for a violation of the Student Conduct Code.

"I don't want to see that happen," she said.

Green advocates that women who want to smoke at night should always have a friend with them. Taylor also strongly urges that women not go alone.

But Beckenhauer doesn't think that's always possible. "I usually smoke with my boyfriend, but he lives (across campus) in Duniway and my roommate doesn't smoke," she said.

Green said the ban is not meant to be punitive toward smokers. She admits the ban makes it harder for them, but she thanks them for being compliant with the new policy.

Green recommends nicotine gum or patches to help reduce cravings after dark. She also suggested an upcoming acupuncture clinic to help smokers overcome the addiction.

The Griz Personal Safety cart zips around after dark as a resource for safely getting across campus. Usually used for trips to the library or between dorms, driver Jake Thiesen said no one has used it to get to the smoking areas.

"Most of the calls we get are from freshmen," he said. "For the first couple weeks a lot of the freshmen don't know about this service so ... maybe as it goes on we'll get a couple calls."

Taylor said he doesn't think the Griz Personal Safety staff should be used to escort smokers.

"The whole intent of the ban is to get people to stop smoking," he said.

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