Up in smoke

UNIVERSITY ISSUES: UC President Mark Yudof’s letter ordering all of the system’s campuses to become smoke-free by 2014 is a welcome move.

Decades ago, it might not have been that strange to visit a professor for office hours and find them with a cigarette hanging from their lips. Today, you might catch a few stressed students taking a drag outside of the Free Speech Movement Cafe during dead week. In two years, even that will be a thing of the past.

UC President Mark Yudof’s Jan. 9 decree that all University of California campuses become smoke-free by 2014 is welcome progress toward creating a healthy atmosphere for our university community.

In his letter, Yudof leaves the implementation of the policy up to individual campus administrations, guiding them to focus on education to stop smoking rather than penalizing them. Combined with the two-year deadline, this general thrust toward a smoke-free UC and campus community is a responsible stance for the university to take.

Though only about 8 percent of students and 10 percent of faculty members on UC campuses are smokers, according to the San Jose Mercury News, administrators at UC Berkeley and other campuses should be mindful to formulate rules that do not ostracize these members of the community who cannot easily quit, nor force them to seek refuge at unsafe locations because of strict bans of smoking on campus or near their residence halls.

The 24 months before campuses must implement their individual plans are more than enough to gently ease the university community into a smoke-free mindset. But administrators should still remember to continually accommodate future generations of students, staff and faculty members while they adjust to being part of a nonsmoking community.

That the new policy covers more than just cigarettes is encouraging. By including smokeless tobacco products in its definition of “smoke-free,” the policy’s guidelines place themselves firmly within the realm of promoting health rather than persecuting smokers.

Yudof’s assertion that it’s time for the UC to demonstrate leadership on the smoking issue is spot on, and while smoking is such a big part of our culture that it can’t be snuffed out entirely, the new policy is a step in the right direction.