Category Archives: Opinions

Disagree with Tech Today story

I protest the one-sided view of August 30 article regarding tobacco free campus in Tech Today. In my opinion the article is one sided and omits important facts. Article indicates :

In a 2010 survey, only 6-7 percent of students and employees were daily users of tobacco products. Nationwide, as of March 2012, some 270 campuses have gone tobacco free, and 650 have gone smoke free. The Undergraduate Student Government voted in favor of Michigan Tech becoming tobacco free in October 2012.

While mentioning that the Undergraduate Student Government voted in favor of ban, it simply omits the fact that the University Senate has voted against the ban by a 2/3rds majority in a referendum. It also does not mention that the Union staff has voted against the ban by 72 percent. USG’s vote also was controversial as it did not involve a referendum in an issue that will affect the entire campus community.

The article also mentions a survey and claims that only 6-7 percent of the campus community uses tobacco. As I served as the Senate representative to the Tobacco committee, I do have a copy of this survey. The mentioned survey was conducted by Inter-Residence Hall Council as a “research study”. Using its results in this manner is ethically wrong. For your reference, I copied the relevant portion of its disclaimer below:

By taking this survey, you agree that you have read and understood the following: You are being invited to participate in a research study about smoking and tobacco on campus. The survey is being conducted by the Inter-Residence Hall Council, a student organization at Michigan Technological University, under advisement of Heather Simpson, Assistant Director of Housing and Residential Life.

There are no known risks if you decide to participate in this research study. There are no costs to you for participating in this study. The information you provide will be used to assess employees’ smoking behaviors and attitudes. The questionnaire will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.

The information collected may not benefit you directly, but the information learned in this study should provide more general benefits.

Furthermore, the phrase “only 6-7 percent of students and employees” is incorrect. 86.97 percent of those who answered the survey were undergraduate students, 11.85 % were graduate students and a merely 1.18 % were employees.  Given these numbers, the survey does not represent the views of the employees of the University. In this survey, for the question :

Q4: Do you smoke? If so how frequently do you smoke?

the answers were:

154    (6.53 %) yes, often.
176    (7.46 %) yes, occasionally.
220   (9.33 %) yes, rarely.
301   (12.76 %) No, but I once did.
1508 (63.83 %) No, I never have.

Excluding rarely, this yields 13.99 percent. Nationally, 10-15 % of college students smoke. Note that this number does not include those who chew tobacco, whereas your article uses the word “use”. In the same survey:

Q7. Do you intend to smoke or use tobacco products in the future? Why or why not?
was answered “yes” by 534 people (22.79 %). Also in this survey, Q14, “How do you feel about the idea of a tobacco/smoking ban on campus?” was answered “Yes, I would support a tobacco ban” by only 32.65 % of the students who answered the survey.
I am copying the message to Dr. Bulleit, our previous Senate president for his reference.

Soner Onder

Places to Smoke?

Can you recommend a place to use tobacco products?
Michigan Tech’s tobacco free campus policy only refers to our campus. As such, we cannot endorse or suggest locations where individuals may use tobacco products.
What about roadways and US41, can I smoke there?
Roadways owned by the University such as but not limited to Division Street, Woodmar Drive, Phoenix Drive, Cemetery Road, Cliff Drive, College Avenue (in front of the Administration and Student Services Building), and Hubbell Street (in front of the MUB) are tobacco free. Regulation questions about US41 should be directed to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Can I go to Daniell Heights to smoke since they don’t go tobacco free until fall 2013?
Only contract holders, co-tenants, and registered guests of Daniell Heights residents are permitted to use tobacco products on the Daniell Heights property. Please remember that the interior buildings of Daniell Heights will continue to remain smoke-free per the Daniell Heights Living Guide.
Is smoking permitted inside my vehicle?
The University is not regulating tobacco usage inside personal vehicles. However, just a friendly reminder that University-owned vehicles are tobacco free.

Any Smoking Areas?

Hello, I will be a freshman starting in the fall of 2013, and I wish to inquire as to where, if anywhere, the smokers will be designated to go to indulge in the use of tobacco products. Also, details about where it will– and won’t–be prohibited should be included along with a map showing areas smoking is allowed (if any).
Thank you for considering my suggestions and listening to my request,
Travis Melka, Fall 2013 Physics Major

Opinion from Anonymous Person

Please pass on, or add in, anonymously, that I am among many, non-smokers and smokers alike, that feel the current approach with outdoor designated areas is fine as is.  I really am not aware of any actual designated areas though, but feel they could help.  The survey results do not provide anything close to a big enough majority in order to justify this move, really not even beyond a realistic error margin.  I’ve always said, if you’re going to conduct a survey you had better be prepared to act on it’s results. (ie, ask students if they want X, they reply overwhelmingly that they do, then you had better give them X)  This survey would clearly direct those who sent it out to do nothing.

The only significant issue here is whether or not smoking is going on indoors at MTU, and it’s not.  The other, much less significant issue is where it’s going on outdoors, and that could be regulated and controlled with simple signage.  The alternative, allotting huge chunks of paid time for employees to walk completely off campus every hour or two is a much worse idea.

Current tobacco usage on campus is not affecting me personally in any significant way.  My views are financially motivated…IF there is a net financial benefit to the university to go tobacco free (e.g. reduced costs) then I support it, and I’d like to see the numbers.

Alternatively, IF this is going to cost the university $, then I say no, especially given the higher burden that employees are now bearing for expenses…we have bigger priorities right now, in my view.

Opinion from Bill Bulleit

Les and All

I do not agree with the goal of making this a tobacco free campus.  Disallowing smoking (as well as other forms of tobacco, e.g., chewing tobacco) in the buildings is a reasonable thing to do since they are public buildings, and the dangers and inconveniences of indoor smoke (and other tobacco) override the right of the tobacco user to choose.  But making the entire campus, grounds and all,tobacco free is another issue.  When it comes to issues such as to tobacco use, we should be looking for a reasonable middle ground solution.  The odor of smoking may bother some people, but the danger of that smoke is minimal when the smoking is being done outside.  I don’t smoke on campus, but I see no reason why others shouldn’t.  I believe that the dangers to people other than the smoker when he/she is smoking outside  are so small that we should at that point be respecting the smoker’s right to choose to do to his/her body what he/she chooses to do.

Certain perfumes give me mild asthma if I am exposed to them.  Should I be pushing for a perfume-free campus?  Of course not.  Some people are allergic to peanuts.  Should we have a peanut free campus?  I hope nobody suggests that.  So why is preventing tobacco use in buildings not enough?   I suggest that at the very least you make a significant effort to make the reasons for this goal a bit more well known.  For instance:  1. A forum would be a good idea;  and/or 2.  Make the reports of the task forces available on-line in a blatantly obvious location; then request comment on those reports and share the comments with the campus community.  I suggest that you use the next year to determine if this approach has broad campus support.

The present Senate policy seems reasonable:

Smoking is prohibited in all University buildings, including private offices, and at all campus functions, unless accommodations have been made to provide separate ventilation for a designated smoking area.

Residence halls are exempted from this policy, but residents may choose to implement such a policy through their own governance process.

This prohibition shall apply equally to students, faculty, staff, administration, and visitors.

This policy shall take effect on September 1, 1994.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by a smoke free campus since the Senate proposal 16-94 is called Recommendation for a Smoke Free Campus, and yet refers only to buildings.

Clearly the Senate will need to weigh in on this issue.

William M. Bulleit, Ph.D., P.E.

Opinions from ECE

Opinion 1: I always take the side of liberty for individuals. BUT the liberty comes at the cost of taking responsibility for one’s own actions without causing undue harm to others. Prima Facie evidence suggests that smokers tend not to take responsibility for harm they cause to themselves and others. For example I doubt any smoker is prepared to pay a higher health insurance premium in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking is a health hazard and causes cancer. So, while we do not discriminate against the smokers, and in fact do subsidize their bad habit, there is no reason to make it any easy for them to smoke. If they like to smoke, the least we should expect from them is to cross the road and do it off‐campus.

Opinion 2: I am generally in favor of individual liberty ‐‐ the freedom to do whatever you feel is best. However, I am in favor of a total ban on tobacco consumption for a variety of reasons:

* Second‐hand smoke has been shown to be as destructive as the primary smoke. I choose to ride a bicycle to work partially to be healthy and I hate unlocking my bike from the rack while people stand nearby smoking. I can’t just move somewhere else because my bike is locked *there*. In general, it seems that most smokers do not observe the “30 foot” rule around building entrances and air intakes either. Therefore, that second‐hand smoke is still affecting people.

* I cannot, in good conscience, support a personal liberty that is so self‐destructive. My father has smoked as long as I have been alive and he knows that I don’t like it (and don’t let him smoke around my kids). My uncle died of lung cancer caused by years of cigarette smoking. I feel this is a case where I can do something positive.

* Another generalization: Smokers tend to throw their cigarette butts anywhere, regardless of supplied disposal options. It dirties an otherwise beautiful campus.

I know it’s a push against a legal behavior and that enforcing the policy could be difficult, but I think it’s a fight worth undertaking.

Opinion 3: I mostly agree with a campus ban, but believe that MTU employees should have on campus places to smoke without being near anyone in public. I don’t want to walk near smokers.

I don’t want smoke coming in my office window, I don’t want the higher cost of healthcare we all share due to cancer, and I hate smokers’ litter, but what are the addicted employees going to do?

Smokers should not smoke near buildings, walkways or picnic tables, and should be fined for littering.

Perhaps a smoking deck on top of a building or behind the back road, with a clean‐up after yourself policy.

(Do not spend much $$ building special places, perhaps a simple pavilion built by volunteers using leftover wood!)

Cessation/education efforts will likely be a waste of time and money. If people want to quit they will, and they can work with their families and doctors on that issue. I’m sure they are already aware of existing help programs. MTU should not spend time and money on this. Zero.

Opinion 4: I support the smoking ban in the campus. I think this can create more awareness among the students. The new students who have tendency for smoking may be discouraged.

Opinion 5: One concern is ‐ Will the university waive this when people are paying (alot of money) to have their receptions (wedding) at the Memorial union and guests do smoke. Receptions are in the evening/Saturdays when students/faculty/staff are very minimal.

Opinion 6: I am strongly in favor of such a ban.

Opinion 7: While I would like this for me, I think allowing people to smoke outdoors is reasonable. I will vote against.

Opinion 8: I am in favor of this policy and can/would go into more detail if desired.

Opinion 9: Totally agree; not good to smoke right outside of the building doors; you get exposed to that anyway;

Opinion 10: Yes, go for it. Smokers don’t observe the posted 50 feet from the building entrances rule.

Opinion 11: I quit smoking 20 years ago, so its no skin from my back.