College Committee Considers Smoking Ban

At the Committee on Student Life meeting Thursday morning, College administrators and House Masters discussed an initiative proposed by the Institute of Politics Tobacco Control Policy Group that would develop and implement a University-wide smoke-free policy.

Members of the policy group—which consists of five undergraduates and their adviser Mackenzie J. Lowry ’11—have presented their proposal to a number of student life groups beginning last semester.

Lowry, who serves as a freshman proctor in Wigglesworth, said that the group hopes the University will gradually institute a campus-wide smoke-free policy in 2012. The group suggested that Harvard impose the ban on Harvard Yard before extending the policy to cover the rest of campus.

“The reason we’re focusing first and foremost on Harvard Yard, is because—as Occupy Harvard really highlighted—Harvard Yard is very symbolic of Harvard University as a whole,” Lowry said. “It really represents the heart of Harvard.”

Lowry added that she thinks a smoking ban is important because smoking is a serious public health issue.

The House Masters at the meeting agreed that the College should move toward being a smoke-free environment. They expressed a preference for a common policy on campus as opposed to different policies for each of the Houses and the Yard.

Lowry said that she hopes the potential plan would encourage Harvard affiliates to quit smoking.

“Suppose the policy is announced in May," Lowry said. “It will take a few months to go into effect. During that time, people will be given enough time to seek out Harvard’s fantastic cessation resources in anticipation of adjusting to a smoke-free environment.”

The Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Services provides Harvard students looking to quit smoking with “individual consultations, literature, referrals, and free quit kits,” according to its website.

For Harvard staff, Harvard University Health Services waives the co-pay for visits to a tobacco treatment specialist, Lowry said.

Harvard’s Longwood Medical campus, home to the Harvard Medical School and the School of Public Health, has been smoke-free since Mar. 2009. The Harvard Kennedy School recently announced that it will become a smoke-free campus on Mar. 1, 2012.

At the meeting, Committee members also discussed updates on the drafting of a new, comprehensive College-wide alcohol policy. The new policy will respond to student input gathered from an Office of Student Life online forum that was created earlier this month.

Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson said that once student comments have been summarized, the alcohol policy committee will hold additional meetings in each residential neighborhood and the Yard to present “the alcohol policy and rationale for the Committee’s recommendations.”

For its final topic, the Committee discussed the resources available for students who become pregnant. Director of the Harvard College Women’s Center Gina Helfrich explained the resources available to pregnant students on campus.

Helfrich said that she used feedback from UHS to create a new brochure that outlines women’s on-campus options for responding to pregnancy. Helfrich said that an online version will be available on the Women’s Center website.

—Staff writer Eliza Nguyen can be reached at enguyen@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at janeseo@college.harvard.edu.

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