Since the University of Montana introduced its campus smoking ban last year, the University Center Market has lost $27,000 in income. The shop faces a tighter budget, a reduced number of employees and increased prices, declared Bryan Thornton, the UC Market and Bookstore general manager. Jon Aliri, acting general manager of the University Bookstore, argued that the ban is not completely responsible for price hike, which have been caused by a number of different factors, including the recent economic drop.
“Inhabitants are making their own lunches now, faculty and students,” Aliri reported. “There is more of a motive to save.”
On top of increasing prices, the shop is in conversation with the UC on lowering its rent, Thornton explained. “Everybody on campus depends on money,” Thornton said. “One entity adjusts, and adjustments are then made somewhere else. So if the UC reduces the rent, that has to be passed on somewhere.”
Aliri also added that the Bookstore and the Market pay a joint lease of $381,000, of which the Market pays $40,000 yearly. The profit from smoking products once paid a majority of the Market’s share of the lease. As long as the smoking ban benefits the students, Aliri reported he doesn’t mind the loss.
“Our mission statement is to protect the life of the students,” Aliri said. “To us, it’s a little bit easier to cope when we know it’s for students. We are an involved part of the campus community, and we will support and continue to support any ordinance of the University’s.”
The Market is a non-profit organization and sells most things at a lower price than conventional shops. Cigs were never sold at a lower cost. Curry Health Services Health Promotions Specialist Brent Hildebrand said he’s seen a decline in smoking tobacco around campus since the ban.
“I mean, you are less likely to be walking behind a smoker walking to class,” Hildebrand said. “We still need to discuss more in the future about actual enforcement of the smoke-free law. It’s very difficult because we don’t want to single people out.”