By Tyler Sgrignoli
INDIANA -- Smokers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania found themselves officially banished from campus in early fall 2008. But absent any enforcement, many smokers have not budged.
Three weeks after the Sept. 11 campus-wide cigarette ban was imposed by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, IUP sophomore Ian Ayres, a non-smoker, said tobacco use was undiminished.
"I see more smokers on this campus than anywhere else I've been," said Ayres on Oct. 3 outside his South 11th Street apartment. "Almost all my friends smoke."
A campus food-service worker reflected opposition to the ban.
"This is America. Where are our freedoms going?" said Aramark employee Christine Wagner on Sept. 24 while enjoying a cigarette on the loading dock behind Foster Dining Hall. "I'd rather have a cigarette than get robbed or even raped. Terrible things can happen walking off campus for a cigarette.
Such fears appear to be unfounded. Campus police have not cited a single smoker, and the campus' top cop has not responded to questions about enforcement of the smoking ban.
"It is a policy, but we're not ticketing people," said dispatch Officer Theresa Fleming on Oct. 15 at the campus police station. "If an officer sees someone smoking, obviously they will inform that student of the PaSSHE's policy."
Several attempts to contact Bill Montgomery, IUP's director of public safety, were unsuccessful.
Campus police did direct inquiries to the state Department of Health, which, according to a Sept. 25 campuswide email sent by an IUP administrator, was the lead agency responsible for smoking-ban enforcement on the 14-campus system.
A woman who answered the phone at the Department of Health in Indiana on Oct. 15 said the office has no enforcement jurisdiction on smoking or any other issue. She referred calls to the agency's headquarters in Harrisburg.
As enforcement has been snuffed, student smokers appear to be unfazed by threats of $250 fines for smoking-ban violations.
"I don't even smoke, but if I did, I probably wouldn't be worried," said criminology major Justin R. Fuga in an Oct. 16 interview at Philadelphia and Eighth streets. "They say that this thing is being enforced. The reality is, no matter how many rumors there are, to my knowledge, no one has been fined."
Tyler Sgrignoli, a senior majoring in journalism, is from Audobon, Pa.
On Dec. 12, IUP faculty and staff received an email from Helen Kennedy, associate vice president for human resources, updating the State System of Higher Education policy on enforcement of its Sept. 11 smoking ban.
"While the Department of Health was to enforce the policy, each university is now responsible for developing an enforcement plan," Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy described IUP's enforcement policy as an "incremental approach" with planning to occur during the spring 2009 semester.
For more information on this story, contact the following sources:
The Pennsylvania Department of Health
Health and Welfare Building
7th and Forsters Streets
Harrisburg, Pa. 17120
Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Sutton Hall, G-4
Indiana University of Pennsylvania