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Admin set to consider designated smoking areas

The working group tasked with reforming St. Olaf’s smoking policy will soon recommend the creation of designated smoking areas.

Currently, community members may smoke anywhere on campus provided they remain a certain distance from building entrances.

Many college employees have complained about walking through smoke when entering and exiting buildings, which drove the College to reexamine its smoking policy, said director of Environmental Health and Safety Elisabeth Haase.

The designated area proposal, which the working group will submit to the President’s Leadership Team for approval before February ends, aims to remedy this issue, Haase said.

Working group member and smoker Bakr Al-Taie ’21 said he likes the designated smoking area policy because it will reduce secondhand smoke exposure but also provide a wide range of areas for smoking.

Haase declined to comment on how many designated areas might be created, but did say there would be smoking areas outside of each residence hall.

Al-Taie said he recalls seeing a map of the proposed areas at a working group meeting. He remembered seeing one to two spots near each building. Haase could not provide a map of the areas to the Messenger.

Alongside drafting the new policy, the working group researched the possibility of a smoking cessation program at St. Olaf with the help of a group of nursing majors.
The group looked into how the College’s insurance policy and health services might factor into such a program.

Haase could not provide more specifics about what the program could look like, but did speculate that the College might create a working group to continue researching it.
“I do think it’s good that they’re developing [a cessation program] if it’s used when students want to use it,” Al-Taie said. “If it’s not pushed on students I think that’s good.”