Despite tobacco-free initiative, students still smoke on Boca campus

FAU created an ambassador program to help enforce the policy three years ago. But the program appears to have low visibility on campus.


Joshua Giron | Photo Editor

Alexander Rodriguez, News Editor

This past January marked the third anniversary of FAU becoming a tobacco-free campus.


Shortly after the change, the university implemented a Tobacco Free Ambassador Program. Its volunteer members help enforce the policy, but a group of regular smokers claim they have yet to meet one face-to-face.


“I have the liberty to be free and smoke wherever I want,” senior art history major Jackson Gaspard said while blowing out a plume of smoke. “Since smoking is banned you might as well ban cars. The exhausts are similar to smoking.”


Donald Torok, head of the program and College of Education associate dean, said the ambassadors are “not set up as the tobacco police.”


“We are not trying to haul in the individuals that violate the program,” he said. “You don’t have a possy being sent out. We are not looking to create confrontation encounters.”

Joshua Giron | Photo Editor

The ambassador program was created a month after FAU campuses became “tobacco-free” Jan. 1, 2015.


The prohibited products include — cigarettes, pipes, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, snuff, cigars, chewing tobacco, and “any other form of loose-leaf, smokeless tobacco.” Signs have also been placed around campus, including the Breezeway, informing students of the policy.


A first offense will lead to a warning and a policy explanation from an ambassador.


Following a second violation, the individual must attend two smoking/tobacco management classes within one semester. Administered by the Office of Health and Wellness Education, the classes’ attendance is required, or students will risk a third violation, says FAU’s website.


And according to the policy, a third violation could lead to a suspension or expulsion.


While ambassadors are encouraged to inform offenders FAU is tobacco free, they’re also expected to report the violations. The time, day, location, and who was involved — faculty, students, visitor, and/or staff — can be reported through an online form.


Yet when asked how many people are ambassadors, Torok replied, “In reality all faculty, staff, and students at the university are in a position to report violators. Anyone can volunteer … You don’t have to be a tobacco-free ambassador to report these violators.”


On top of attending a training session held by FAU police, members are asked to volunteer five to 10 hours a month. But because the ambassadors sign up as volunteers, the hours aren’t mandatory.


The application form asks interested members to list their email, position at FAU, availability, and shirt size so that a training session can be scheduled. The University Press applied to be an ambassador Feb. 2, but as of publication time, has not received a response.


Torok said he’s encountered several offenders and has warned them about the policy, adding that the number has “greatly reduced over time.”


Despite this, a group of frequent smokers can be found on the southeast side of campus.

Joshua Giron | Photo Editor

When asked if she’s see an ambassador, senior psychology major Brenna Callahan said, “Not once and this is the area where the smokers come. Everyone knows that.”


Sitting next to Gaspard, an FAU student who smokes, who wishes to remain anonymous,  laughed with her friends when she was told about the ambassador program.


“You can’t truly enforce something if they are volunteers.”


Florida Schools Tackle Tobacco

With the exception of Florida Polytechnic University and New College of Florida, all 12 of Florida’s public universities are tobacco-free. The following lists some of the state’s larger public and private schools that have gone tobacco free.

Jacksonville University
Indian River State College
Santa Fe College
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University


Lynn University
University of South Florida
Florida Gulf Coast University
University of West Florida
University of Tampa
St. Petersburg College


Florida Atlantic University
University of North Florida
Broward College


Florida State University


University of Central Florida
Nova Southeastern University
Bethune-Cookman University
Valencia College


Florida International University
Miami Dade College
University of Miami


University of Florida


*Information courtesy of each school’s website.*

Alexander Rodriguez is the news editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].