This year, students witnessed a phenomenon they never thought would become reality. On August 22, the President of the American University of Beirut, Dr. Fadlo Khuri, issued an update, stating that by 2018, AUB campus would be completely tobacco-free.
A letter was sent out in March, stating that the decision was taken by Khuri himself during a meeting that was held with Dr. Vera da Costa e Silva, the Head of the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The initial plan is to phase out certain designated smoking areas in the heart of the campus at the beginning of academic year 2017-2018 before moving to a comprehensive solution.” said Khuri.
Khuri’s decision came from his medical experience as an Oncologist. “If one additional person can be shielded from the ordeal of requiring my medical expertise as one of our cherished cancer patients, it will be well worth it,” he said.
A task force named “Tobacco Free 2018” has been assigned by Khuri to head the campaign. “Tobacco Free 2018” is composed of students and staff members as well as medical staff from AUB, whose goal is to slowly turn AUB into a smoke-free environment, all the while making the process as easy as possible for smokers and non-smokers alike.
Posters and signs have been placed around campus, with the title “Tobacco Free AUB 2018” and the slogan “Health Is In, Smoking Is Out”. Meanwhile, a map has been issued, indicating the designated smoking areas on campus during this semester as well as starting 2018.
Several brown benches have been painted green, entirely terminating the possibility of smoking in previously designated smoking areas. Many popular smoking areas like the outdoor section behind the cafeteria, known as “Back Caf” and the “Zoo” have become non-smoking zones.
Certain benches and smoking areas were maintained for the Fall 2017 semester; an area near SRB, an area next to Ada Dodge cafeteria, and one near the Chemistry building.
Some students were pleased with the President’s decision. Elio Caponis, a Political Studies senior told Outlook that “this is a great initiative taken by the American University of Beirut, which always strives for our comfort.”
Others believe that AUB’s drastic decision was not necessarily for health-related reasons, but rather as a step forward in the ranks for the university.
Sarah Chrabieh, a business student and a smoker said, “a Tobacco-free campus is useless. They think that they’re helping students stop smoking, but it’s making things worse. We are late to class because of this, and we’re exhausted.”