Smoke and Mirrors at UNLV

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A "NO SMOKING" sign prominently displayed in Pida Plaza. Image by Mitchelle Gonzalez.

UNLV has been a smoke-free campus for over a year now, but has it really changed anything? Identifying as a smoke-free campus is beneficial to the school’s reputation, but enforcing the policies outlined in documentation and providing on-site support are what students need. 

UNLV officially became a smoke-free campus last year on August 15, 2022 in an attempt to promote a healthier campus for students, faculty and staff. According to an article published by the UNLV News Center people on campus will be, “protected from unwanted and involuntary exposure to tobacco and passive smoke, establish a supportive atmosphere for those trying to quit tobacco, and create a culture of wellness for the campus community.” 

Not only does it help the students on campus, but it helps build a better image of UNLV. Keith Whitfield, President of UNLV, explained, “We have people who visit our campus, and the idea that we take a stand to make a healthier environment is representative of our identity as a university.” Though UNLV had good intentions, has it been truly effective or does it just serve as another way to make the school look better? 

People are still smoking on campus even though it is clear that it is not allowed. “I saw construction workers smoking on campus the other day. I felt uncomfortable because I was just trying to walk to class with my sister,” said Yimeli Ly-Delrosario, who is an elementary education major. There are probably more smoking incidents that do not get reported on campus.  

Students are still subject to encountering smokers, so what can be done to limit exposure? For one, students can file incident reports to bring attention to violations of the policy through the Office of Student Conduct. The best way to ensure that UNLV stays truly smoke-free is by taking action when one sees a violation of the policy. 

Additionally, the question of whether UNLV is supporting students in picking up a healthier lifestyle is brought to question. In an article under the Public Health section on the UNLV website, UNLV claims it is “committed to supporting all students and employees who wish to stop using tobacco products with cessation resources.” 

There are currently ways for students to receive this assistance through the UNLV Student Counseling and Psychological Services center, the Student Health Center, and a multitude of third-party services. Although these are all good ways of providing assistance, there should be support options that can assist students in a timely manner. 

Having free, on-site resources like nicotine patches and or gum would be practical and beneficial. It is true that students can obtain nicotine patches and gum through the Nevada Tobacco Quitline hotline, but for students who need immediate help this is impractical. 

The Student Wellness Center on campus provides students with free condoms at the SRWC because it would be impractical to expect students to wait for a hotline to ship the resource, so why not do the same for nicotine patches/gum? UNLV should consider providing free nicotine patches to students as a way to provide more support to students who wish to quit smoking. 

Overall, UNLV has made great efforts to provide a  smoke-free campus, but there can always be more being done by both students and the school. It takes effort from all parties to create change. Though it may be impossible to reach perfection, UNLV can strive towards it.

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