Tobacco citations decreasing, despite reports of smoking

Despite the enforcement of a tobacco ban on the UI campus, several still continue smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

The number of citations given out by the University of Iowa police for smoking on campus has declined drastically in the past three years.

According to the UI Department of Public Safety, there were 65 citations issued in 2015, three in 2016, and just one so far in 2017. Officers have responded to 414 reports of smoking taking place in unauthorized areas in 2015, 163 calls in 2016, and 392 calls so far in 2017.

The UI’s tobacco-free campus policy prohibits the use of tobacco in any building, vehicle, or outdoor area, owned, leased or controlled by the university. However, many people still smoke tobacco products on the UI campus.

Smoking citations are issued if the UI police come in contact with a person who routinely violates the policy.

This tobacco ban is also enforced on property owned jointly by the UI and Iowa City.

Smoking cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products are subject to a $50 civil fine with a ticket issued by the UI police. Police officers respond to complaint reports from the public and also initiate stops when out on patrol.

RELATED: Iowa City parks no longer permit tobacco usage

Their first step is to warn individuals who are smoking and direct them to an area that is not university property, where they may smoke.

“We also intend for enforcement to be a positive initial experience,” Haley Bruce, the public information officer for the Department of Public Safety wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Our first interaction with a person who is in violation of the smoking policy will, in most cases, be to inform them about the rules and direct them to a place where they can smoke legally.”

UI students who live in dorms have to find locations off campus to smoke.

“I was warned by a UI police officer when I was smoking on the stairs outside my dorm, Mayflower,” Gabriel Montalvo, a former smoker and UI student said. “He told us to move away from the stairs, to the sidewalk and smoke, because it [the stair] was university property.”

He said many of his friends have been told not to smoke by UI professors.

Gabriel said he has warned others smoking on UI property that they might be given citations. He thinks the ban would be enforced in a stronger way if these warnings were given out by figures of authority such as police officers.

“As a person with asthma, I cannot stand people smoking around me — it’s not good for my lungs,” UI student Chelsea Schula said. “When I see an individual smoking on UI property, I tell them that I am a student with asthma, and ask them to move away.”

Schula said she has told at least 10 individuals who she saw smoking to not smoke on the campus. She said most students listen and realize they are violating code and either stop smoking or move away. She has been actively helping enforce the tobacco ban on campus.

“As with other university policies, we ask that students, faculty, and staff periodically familiarize themselves with the rules and adhere to them,” Bruce said.

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