Is SCSU really tobacco-free?

In 2011, St. Cloud State University implemented a policy saying the University would officially be tobacco-free, by not allowing the sale, advertisement or use of any tobacco throughout the University. According to Health Services Assistant Promotions and Marketing Director Erica Karger Gatzo, this was a way to limit the amount of second-hand smoke exposure to the community.

Despite these measures, people can find plenty of cigarettes lying around parts of campus, which may confuse some.

While smoking is still illegal in a few areas, the way the University intertwines with city streets leaves 20 designated places to take a drag, exposing others to secondhand smoke.

Targets determine where people are allowed to smoke/ use tobacco products on campus

“Those are legal zones for smoking,” Gatzo said. “That’s not our realm for making policy decisions.”

According to the CDC, nearly 41,000 people die of secondhand smoke exposure each year. Despite the statistics, data released by SCSU Student Health Services shows the number of smokers on campus declined dramatically and the number of complaints of secondhand smoking decreased by 45 percent.

Student Health Services study that shows rates of decline for secondhand smoking

When the deal was made almost seven years ago, the City of St. Cloud had the option to lay out smoking ordinances for the entire city but was not interested at the time. We tried to reach out to them for comment, but no one responded.

While the designated areas aren’t disappearing anytime soon, Gatzo said there are still plenty of ways people can avoid secondhand smoke on campus because sometimes, people don’t know their limits.

“The biggest way to do that is to recognize that maybe not everyone knows the policy and I think a good way is just to approach those people, especially if they are not smoking in an area where it’s not a designated city street or sidewalk.”

If you’re interested in quitting smoking and want to learn more about resources, you can contact Student Health Services on campus for more information.



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