Even with a surge in popularity of alternative tobacco products like electronic cigarettes, Security Director Steve Leonard says tobacco use on campus has continued to be a minimal problem.
The college’s 2016-17 “The Key: A Guide to Student Life” policy handbook states the college is “committed to providing a healthy, comfortable and productive environment” for students, faculty, staff and visitors.
Franklin College is a completely smoke- and tobacco-free campus, and has been since 2011.
That means tobacco use is banned everywhere on campus for everyone, from students to trustees.
Smoking and all forms of tobacco aren’t allowed to be used within the boundaries of college property.
College property includes all buildings, facilities, indoor and outdoor spaces, grounds rented or operated by the college, parking lots, walkways, sidewalks, college vehicles, and private vehicles parked on college property.
That includes spaces like Cline Woods, Faught Stadium, 66 Water St. and Grizzly Park.
Most smokers on campus choose to stand on the public sidewalk to smoke instead. A popular spot is the sidewalk on Monroe Street, just off of Franklin College-owned property.
A couple e-cigarette shops have opened locally.
One such shop is Karma Vape, located at 225 N. Morton St. near the Papa John’s in Franklin. It opened in 2014.
The store carries electronic pens and electronic liquid in a variety of styles and flavors — all of which students are allowed to possess, but not to use, on campus.
According to “The Key,” smoking and tobacco use includes, but is not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, electronic cigarettes, pipes, smoking apparatuses, spice, cloves, all smokeless tobacco products, hookahs and vaporizers.
If tobacco is used, the individual will go through the college’s standard judicial system processor and pay for any damage as a result of the violation.
Leonard, who is a smoker himself, said violations of the smoking policy are “exceedingly rare.”
There is usually just one violation of the smoking policy a year, and there haven’t been any this semester, he said.
“You can be written up for using tobacco,” Leonard said. “But that usually only happens if we’re pretty confident the individual knows that you can’t smoke on campus but does it anyway, like a senior student smoking in a parking lot. But if we catch a freshman smoking three days into the semester in a car, that’s not something to write them up about. That’s a teachable moment.”
Leonard said the biggest challenge is enforcing the policy for people who aren’t usually on campus.
“Visitors to campus are a challenge,” he said. “Especially at home football games, parents and others smoke in Cline Woods. But they always comply immediately when informed of the policy.”
Although smoking use on campuses around the nation has dropped significantly in recent years, campus nurse Catherine DeCleene said she still doesn’t like seeing young people smoking.
“Smoking is the single worst thing you can do for your health,” she said. “I just don’t understand anyone smoking nowadays — knowing what we know now.”
DeCleene has worked in campus health for 12 years and knows of various students who she helps that smoke.
But only one has ever asked for help quitting.
“I have sympathy for older people who started and have a hard time quitting,” she said. “It is addicting. I’m not saying that it’s easy. But I just hate to see a young person smoke.”
Leonard agrees and said that, when he started working at the college, people were allowed to spoke in buildings and in offices. There were ash trays in the student center.
“It’s ultimately good that people aren’t proud of an unhealthy behavior,” he said.