The Florida A&M University Faculty Senate is discussing the proposed ban of tobacco products on campus. The ban seeks to prohibit smoking in all areas of the FAMU campus, including the popular e-cigarettes and hookah pens.
To determine the opinions as it pertains to smoking on campus, an ad hoc committee will gather details and opinions from all stakeholders on the issue to present to the Faculty Senate. If approved, the ban would then be sent to President Elmira Mangum, then the Board of Trustees for approval.
Mary Simmons, Ph.D., director of the division of cardiopulmonary science in the School of Allied Health, has been the leading voice for the tobacco ban on FAMU’s campus. Simmons feels that moving the university forward to a comprehensive tobacco and smoke-free policy would be beneficial to all across the campus.
“History shows that big tobacco has always marketed to the African-American community,” Simmons said. “It’s a national push for HBCUs to be in the forefront to push for comprehensive policies. There are 105 HBCUs, and of those, 31 have tobacco or smoke free policies. Now if FAMU has a policy, do I think other HBCUs will follow? Absolutely.”
The smoking ban on FAMU’s campus is gaining support from people around the campus due to the direct effect of tobacco on African-Americans.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five black adults in the United States smokes cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes puts users at a higher risk for heart disease, cancer and strokes, which are among the leading causes of death for blacks in the United States.
The Faculty Senate and supporters of the ban will have to overcome a strong opposition in their hopes to get FAMU designated as a tobacco free campus. Smokers’ rights are present on campus like everywhere else.
Leicy Brown, a third-year health science student from Tampa Bay, says she is indifferent about smoking on campus.
"I believe smokers have their rights too,” Brown said. “I feel like if we had designated areas for smokers on campus, they should be able to do it. Even hospitals have areas for people to smoke, so why can't we?"
The ban of tobacco products on university campuses is not a new idea and has been an increasing movement in the past decade; Florida State University has already adopted the smoking ban on its campus. Bethune Cookman University has also adopted the 100 percent ban of tobacco products on its campus.
Jeremy Bray, a second-year business administration student from Miami is all for the tobacco ban.
“Tobacco is so unhealthy,” Bray said. “There is no positive side of smoking tobacco, especially on campus. Not only is (tobacco) killing the smoker, but second-hand smoke is causing the people around to be harmed also.”
The committee responsible for gathering details on the potential ban will include members from both supporters and those who oppose the smoking ban to make the best decision for the campus.