Although today marks the end of Health and Wellness Week, Rider’s Student Government Association (SGA), as well as the administration, is considering passing legislation that would help students breathe easier outside of buildings on campus.
At a recent Senate meeting, a proposal to change the minimum distance to smoke outside a building from 10 to 25 feet won support. The idea springs from the creation of the West Village Commons, which are made of sustainable materials, and on top of working toward green living, also focus on healthy living. One of the mandates Rider has to follow with the creation of this building is that smokers will not be allowed to puff unless they are 25 feet away from the building. Since the rule only applies to West Village, the SGA and the administration felt that it may be a good idea to promote these rules around all of the buildings. The smoking distance is already especially enforced around Olson Hall, which houses wings of students focused on health and wellness.
This new policy seems to be a good idea for the majority of students. However, the enforcement of the rules seems unlikely, since there is not nearly enough security to keep an eye on every building all of the time. Also, the rules as they are now are not enforced — students are often found standing right outside of doorways smoking, instead of being 10 feet away. Surely there is not enough room in the budget to equip officers with tape measurers as well. If there were no new security personnel to enforce the smoking distances, then the amount of time it takes a smoker to finish a cigarette, compared to the frequency that officers circulate around campus, makes the chances of being caught very slim.
New Jersey state laws don’t include a distance smokers need to be away from a building to smoke — only that smoking is not allowed inside public buildings, including restaurants and bars. Some states, like California, have laws that prohibit smoking within 20 feet of public buildings.
Four years ago, smoking was allowed inside dorm rooms here at Rider. In the fall of 2005, state law banned smoking in all college dorms, making it the strongest dorm law in the country. However, before that, in 1991, Rider recognized the dangers of second-hand smoke and banned smoking in all campus buildings except the Pub and the residence hall rooms (at the discretion of the occupants).
Ultimately, it is up to the smokers on campus to respect their non-smoking peers and walk a few extra feet away to have a cigarette. This step shows how swiftly views have changed over a few years. Although students who are smokers on campus may feel alienated by the proposal, overall it is aimed at keeping the campus clean and the people who work and live on it healthy.
This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Nadine Tester.