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Univ. of Michigan has spent almost $240,000 enforcing smoking ban

The University of Michigan has spent nearly a quarter of $1 million to implement the July 1 campus-wide smoking ban.

The budget request for the cigarette ban by the university was $240,805. Most of that amount has been spent with a few exceptions; approximately $15,000 will be spent in two years on “clean-up and butt removal,” and $7,000 will be spent on removing temporary signage in two to three years.

The budget for the project is broken up into communications $21,380 (which includes signs), Tobacco Consultation Services (the annual budget, with some additional start-up costs for the first year) $51,925, and facilities $167,500. The estimated annual costs of maintaining the smoking ban are $43,925.

The ban, proposed to foster a “culture of health” on campus, relies on expected voluntary compliance by students, faculty, and staff. As of now, first offenders will receive a warning if they are caught smoking on campus property. According to the Smoke-Free University website, repeat offenders will be dealt with in the “same way that violation of any other policy of the university is handled,” through the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. There is no formal list of offenders, however, so unless a student is caught multiple times by the same person, there are no repercussions for ignoring the ban.

The breakdown of the budget for the smoking ban involves a coordinated campaign to enforce the ban and encourage students to quit smoking.

Signs have been installed on campus to remind students of the ban. The university spent $5,220 on posters, bus signs, and table tents. This money comes from the general fund, which includes tuition dollars.

“Certain portions of the university are self-sufficient,” said Rick Fitzgerald, Senior Public Affairs and Media Relations Representative. That is, in most cases, the university is not technically paying itself.

The Student Organization Resource Center, or SORC, for example, does not receive any money from the general fund to pay for its labor expenses. “It’s an auxiliary unit,” said SORC manager Betsy Sundholm. SORC does have office space on the campus, however. The SORC also received $1,145 in fees from the university for smoking ban bus signs.

Additionally, the university spent $4,240 to print ads about the ban in the Michigan Daily and the University Record, another university paper. The Michigan Daily does not receive university funding, but the University Record does receive money from the general fund. The Record was given over $500 to place insertions in their issues.

When asked if there was a general consensus as to the success of the implementation of the smoking ban, Fitzgerald said it had “gone smoothly” and that “no major issues were raised.”

The university’s budget also vaguely outlines the estimated annual costs of implementation, totaling $51,925 for the first year and over $40,000 the following years.

Included in this projection is $1,000 which will be spent annually on an assessment consultation. During the first year of the ban, an advisory committee will meet quarterly to assess the success of the ban implementation. The first meeting will be held in November. The committee will analyze whether or not there has been a decrease in smokers, if there are “hot spots” on campus where people gather to smoke, and also the number of people who have quit smoking or are trying to quit smoking.

Lena Gray, the program coordinator of the smoking ban, is in charge of compiling this data for the Tobacco Consultation Services. Her part-time salary is included in the annual projected budget.

Gray’s job includes collecting data, responding to complaints and compiling feedback.

“I walk around campus and see if there are ‘hot spots’ where smokers congregate,” said Gray. She will then make recommendations to the committee based on her findings.

The student response to the ban has been mixed.

“It has had a measure of success,” said Dhruv Madeka, a senior in the School of Engineering. “While there are still smokers around, this is part of the transition period and I expect the number to keep decreasing.”

“I was not against the smoking ban,” said Brian Hohn, a senior and Organizational Studies major, “but I never had a problem with people smoking on our campus. If they choose to smoke in an outdoor area, that’s their choice.”

Stephanie Wang is the editor-in-chief of the Michigan Review. She is a contributor to The College Fix.

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