MetroLink will no longer allow smoking in the parking lots, stations or platforms or in indoor or outdoor waiting areas.
Metro already banned smoking on trains, buses and other transit vehicles, along with train platforms, but starting Tuesday, that ban will include all Metro property in Missouri and Illinois. The smoking ban also includes e-cigarettes or vaping.
SWIC student Bryce Wongler said the ban would severely affect his daily routine, studies and mood.
“I know smoking’s not good for you, but I already have that habit,” Wongler said. “Smoking helps me cope, and if I have nowhere to do it, it’s really going to increase my stress.”
SWIC already has a smoking ban on campus, so the MetroLink property is the only area at the college where students can smoke. Wongler, a psychology major who wants to be a high school science teacher, said he thinks the ban won’t stop people from smoking and ultimately will hurt MetroLink’s ridership.
“I understand no smoking on the platform and I know it’s for health reasons,” Wongler said. “But right here is the designated smoking area for college students. If people can’t do that, it’s going to discourage people from using Metro as transportation. In the end, it’s not going to make much of a difference, people are going to continue smoking on the property.”
Patti Beck, director of communications for Metro, said security will not be increased to enforce the ban and violators will be issued a citation.
James Kyle has worked on a safety officer at the SWIC MetroLink for 11 years. He said he’ll enforce the ban if he has to, but he strongly disagrees with it.
“They can’t smoke on campus already, so they’ve been coming here. And now with the ban, you’re probably going to get even more people smoking here in protest,” Kyle said.
Kyle said signs were posted Wednesday morning at SWIC MetroLink to warn people about the smoking ban, which will go into effect Tuesday.
Chris Richards, who also attends SWIC and is from Belleville, said he took up vaping as a coping mechanism after he stopped doing drugs and smoking cigarettes.
“Everyone needs an outlet, this is the only alternative I have,” Richards said. “And what I’m smoking now has zero percent nicotine and is all water vapor. It makes no sense to ban it.”
According to a Metro press release, ambassadors from Metro and the American Lung Association will spread awareness about the ban and pass out information on how to quit smoking at the Civic Center Transit Center in St. Louis from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In the release, Ray Friem, executive director of Metro Transit, said: “We are creating a healthier environment for the transit riding public. We encourage feedback from our Metro riders and they are telling us they want a smoke-free transit experience. When MetroBus service returned to the Civic Center Transit Center earlier this month, it officially became the first smoke-free Metro transit center location.”