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The Daily Tar Heel

Student smokers don't get support from RHA but find it for themselves

Smokers gather around the flagpole Wednesday afternoon.
Smokers gather around the flagpole Wednesday afternoon.

“There’s a no-smoking boundary in all University facilities,” Residence Hall Association President Taylor Bates said. “That’s a University-wide policy.”

Bates said smoking tobacco is banned inside and within 100 feet of all residence halls and University buildings. He said RHA doesn’t have any resources or programs for students who smoke or are trying to quit, other than the Substance-Free Environments Residential Learning Program.

“It’s a program that requires you to live in that housing facility,” Bates said. “Sometimes they do put on programs open to the broader campus community, but usually it’s open only to the residents.”

Students who do smoke gather in some unofficial areas around campus, namely the flagpole in Polk Place.

“Honestly I don’t find it that big an inconvenience,” one student smoker, Josh Martin, said. “All of my classes are right here, so it’s whatever.”

Martin said for the most part he isn’t bothered by the fact that campus is non-smoking.

“If anything I’m kind of glad they kind of force us together,” he said. “Because as you can see we have a very tight community. We even have people that don’t smoke come out and hang out with us, and people who quit smoking still come hang out with us.”

Martin said he regularly shows up at the flagpole before class to unwind and talk with friends.

He said he didn’t have much to complain about, but wished there was a better way to stay out of the rain.

“Generally I’d say the worst thing about it is bad weather,” he said. “We’re forced to either go under the overhang at Greenlaw or huddle up under the trees which are even closer to the walkway, and people get irritated by that.”

He said he and some of the other smokers have come up with a solution to their precipitation problem.

“I wish the school was more open-minded about it and would give us a gazebo out here,” Martin said.

Molly Moore said she smokes and appreciates the fact that she can only do it at the flagpole.

“I actually prefer the fact that the campus is non-smoking because I am attempting to quit,” she said. “It’s nice to not have smoke everywhere. It’s a little more inconvenient if you want to grab a quick cigarette, but that kind of helps.”

Moore said she enjoys the community spirit amongst the smokers but doesn’t enjoy the feeling of segregation.

“It definitely puts a little bit more of a stigma on smoking, but that just seems to be the kind of environment we are in,” she said.

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