Two women in their twenties puffed long Black Lucky Strike cigarettes beneath some trees on the business administration building lawn. Their books and empty Starbucks cups pilled on a bench just outside a designated smoking area on the USF Tampa Bay campus.
On March 20, officials at the campus implemented the “Change is in the Air” initiative to restrict areas where students and faculty can light up. And so far, it seems that restrictions have made little impact on smokers’ regular schedules.
Sunny, who refused to give her full name, is a second year graduate student studying finance, who stood in the shade wearing jeans and a polo shirt and tight ponytail of light brown hair.
“I think it’s fine,” Sunny said, as she flicked ash from her cigarette butt into the leafy grass. “I know I’m not doing a favor to my lungs, so I might as well not do harm to others.”
She said she doesn’t smoke habitually – just to relieve stress.
“I’m not really a hard core smoker,” Sunny said. “I smoke maybe once in two or three days or when I’m feeling stress or have an exam. But I’m sure someone who smokes all the time or who is a habitual smoker and needs to smoke, I think it is inconvenient for them to go find a place to smoke.”
Sunny said most of her friends who smoke only travel to campus for classes, so they don’t spend enough time on campus to need a smoke break.
“[The ban] is more for people who smoke habitually or who don’t smoke at all,” Sunny said. “I have a few friends in the health sciences, and they really care if you smoke around them because of their major. They would obviously have concerns about it, but we don’t smoke that often.”
Sunny’s friend, another finance graduate student who wore thick eyeliner and a nose ring—declined to reveal her name—but she agreed with the sentiments.
“I’m not a regular smoker so I only smoke as a stress release or if someone else is smoking,” said the female student. “I smoke maybe once every two weeks or three weeks.”
“But you caught us on an exam day,” the woman joked.
The Tampa campus currently has 24 designated smoking areas with signs and cigarette butt receptacles.
To find out more information about the clean air initiative or to find these locations, view the press release and map from usf.edu.