Month in, Yard Official Says Smoking Ban Implementation Smooth

Tobacco-Free Signs
As of Aug. 15, smoking has been banned in Harvard Yard.

Over a month after Harvard banned the use of all forms of tobacco in the Yard, Harvard staff and students said that the implementation of the ban has been smooth, with its impact localized to a few areas.

According to Maureen McCarthy, manager of Harvard Yard and the freshman dormitories, the University has been enforcing the smoking ban similarly to the way it enforces the ban against biking through the Yard. Staff members, including members of Securitas and Yard Operations, approach smokers and ask them to either desist or leave the Yard.

McCarthy said she has not heard any reports about hostile or uncooperative responses from either students or tourists.

“We’re not really aggressively implementing it, but people slowly learn that it’s a policy, and they get the word out,” she said.

Students interviewed around the Yard this week said that they were aware of the ban and pleased it is in place, though many also noted that they had not found issue with smokers in the Yard before the prohibition was put in place Aug. 15.

“I think it’s probably a good thing, but it’s never been a problem,” Caroline L. Ferguson ’17, a Crimson sports editor, said of the ban. “If I was around people smoking I think it’d probably bother me, but I didn’t notice before that it was [a problem].”

According to McCarthy, although smokers in the Yard were not considered a huge issue before the ban, there were certain locations in the Yard that were popular for smokers. At locations such as Widener Gate, the steps of Lamont Library, and entryway D of Wigglesworth Hall, cigarette butts posed a cleanup problem for landscape maintenance staff members.

According to the University Department of Health Promotion and Education, the ban was put in place “to ensure a safe, healthy environment for people to walk, study, be active, [and] engage with each other.”

Student smokers interviewed for this story said that the ban has made smoking more inconvenient and prompted them to change where they smoke, but it has not promoted any broad lifestyle changes.

“Every time I feel like I need to smoke, I have to go outside of the Yard. So regardless of the time—even if it’s the middle of the night—I will go to one of the open gates and smoke outside,” said one freshman, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson because he did not want his family to know that he smokes. He added that if the ban did not exist, he would likely smoke inside the Yard, though in a relatively secluded area.

Although Harvard University Health Services also announced last month that it would strengthen and increase promotion of its tobacco cessation resources for student smokers to complement the policy change, the anonymous freshman said the ban has so far not changed how much he smokes.

—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at