Residents respond to smoking ban

Two weeks after its official implementation, the new residential smoking ban has drawn mixed sentiments from students regarding the ban's effectiveness and legitimacy.

Campus Council President Andrew Nurkin said the enforcement of the ban will depend not only upon the dorms' residential advisors, but upon students neighboring those who would break the ban as well.

"Before, it was just if you were inconvenienced you would have to ask them to stop and they had the choice not to," Nurkin said. "Now you have the choice to say, 'You really need to quit that,' and that's the rule."

Duke Student Government President Joshua Jean-Baptiste agreed, but added that the degree of enforcement will vary within the dorms.

"With the RAs and our peers enforcing it, the ban can be effective," Jean-Baptiste said. "But if you have a group of peers that doesn't mind smoking and an RA that does not strictly enforce it, then the ban can't be enforced."

Although Nurkin said he felt students were taking the ban seriously, many students felt the ban would be ineffective, especially as the year progresses and RAs find themselves loaded with academic responsibilities as well.

"If people really want to smoke, they will," said sophomore Julie Griffin, an occasional smoker. "Some strict RAs will try to enforce it, but there's only so much they can do. They have lives too."

Sophomore Will Abbott, a non-smoker, said there are ways to get around the ban.

"Rooms can be closed and windows opened," Abbott said. "An odor in a room isn't enough evidence or cause for an RA to take action."

Aside from concerns about enforcement, some students still question the legitimacy of the ban. Last year, controversy arose when Campus Council passed a resolution calling for the ban, a move DSG said did not have the support of the student body. DSG then posed the question to voters in its March executive elections, and about 58 percent backed Campus Council's resolution.

One smoker said he did not mind going outside to smoke, but that he felt the ban took away a personal liberty. Another noted that although the majority of students are non-smokers, he felt the ban causes an inconvenience for heavy smokers and occasional smokers alike.

"They make us live on campus and then they don't let us smoke," said junior Rob Beasley, a smoker. "It's just the University trying to take away another one of our rights."

Griffin also commented on the dichotomy between the school's mandate that students live on campus and its prohibition of in-room smoking.

"We should have as much freedom to do what we want within the legal limits," Griffin said.

The ban drew criticism from non-smokers as well.

"It makes sense that smoking should be disallowed in the halls, but if a smoker does it in his own room, then I don't care," said Sean Marshall, a sophomore. "It should be their business and no one else's, as long as their roommate doesn't care."

There were also many who supported the ban and applauded the administration's steps toward creating a healthier living environment.

"I appreciate the ban because a lot of smokers would smoke in the hallways and stairwells instead of their rooms," said senior Kathryn Fabian, a non-smoker. "It's nice not to have to worry about it anymore."


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