Student opinion on the Board of Regent’s (BOR) Tobacco and Smoke-Free Campus policy, introduced at last month’s BOR meeting in committee, is split according to a poll conducted by the Student Government Association (SGA). The full board has not yet discussed the policy due to the inclement weather that canceled the BOR meeting scheduled for last week.
According to the survey, in which over 5,000 students participated, approximately 47.43 percent of Tech students polled support the policy while 48.27 percent oppose it. There were strong opinions on both sides with 32.45 percent saying that they strongly supported the ban and 32.51 strongly opposed.
“We oppose [the ban],” said Michael de la Guardia, chairman of Georgia Tech College Republicans. “We just think it’s a little bit unreasonable.”
When asked in the survey why they opposed the ban, 43.41 percent of respondents said that it was because “it infringes on students’ legal rights. The other reasons given included “It will be too difficultto enforce” and “It will drive students to unsafe off-campus locations to smoke.”
De la Guardia further stated that College Republicans were also in opposition to a ban on smoking, as opposed to the proposed policy of banning all tobacco.
“I just don’t think it’s prevalent enough on campus right now to constitute an infringement on other people’s liberties or enjoying the open space,” De la Guardia said.
The College Democrats at Georgia Tech does not have an official position on the new policy according to President Brian Seo.
“We do not have an official position on it,” Seo said. “We do agree that it is a great stepping stone to provide an initiative to access the importance on health on our campus and really take a look on … to look at the effect of tobacco use has on [students].”
Among the reasons given by supporters of the policy, the most common was “It reduced the effect of smoking on my health, as a non-smoking,” accounting for 44.56 percent of those polled who were support of the policy.
The survey also asked students what they thought of a hypothetical smoke ban that would just ban tobacco products that produce smoke but not other kinds of tobacco.
When worded as “making Georgia Tech a smoke-free campus,” 55.13 percent of respondents supported this hypothetical policy while 41.51 percent were opposed. Among those in favor, 13.42 percent said that they would only support this policy as a replacement for the proposed BOR ban.
The Board of Regents meets again in March where the ban will likely be a topic for discussion.
The full poll results are available at sga.gatech.edu/tobacco.