ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two years ago, the University of New Mexico banned all kinds of smoking on campus. However, KRQE News 13 has learned in that time, not one person has been cited for breaking the rules, and it’s likely no one ever will.
“You see it all over whenever you’re walking by. People will still do it,” said Fabian, a UNM freshman.
When UNM went tobacco-free, part of the widely advertised program was the threat of a minimum $100 citation for people who did not follow the rules. But in those last two years, not one person has been issued a citation.
“The citations were a last resort that we really wanted to not push forward,” said Kyle Smith, with UNM’s Office of Substance Abuse and Prevention.
Smith says the university decided to go in a different direction, focusing on education over punishment, by using Student Health Ambassadors, like UNM senior Nicaea Spomer.
“We inform them about what the health risks are and that we’d like them to stay away from tobacco use on campus,” said Spomer.
UNM says overall tobacco use on campus is going down, decreasing from 22.5% to 13.7%.
“Almost at a 50% drop,” said Smith.
However, some students say it is still prevalent on campus and believe actually issuing citations would help.
“I feel like if they did enforce it’d probably make our campus a little bit more classy, a little bit more high-end, and I feel like that’s always better,” said Jesus Sanchez.
UNM says it is now focusing on informing students about the dangers of vaping, amid the nationwide epidemic.