Provisions Market stopped accepting points earlier this month from students purchasing cigarettes, administrators said.
GW can no longer accept cigarette purchases on points because of the tax status of meal plans, said Barbara Porter, GW’s director of public affairs. Under GW’s point system, students are not charged tax on their purchases. But when students make their purchases using cash or debit dollars, tax is charged to them.
The GWorld card is made up of two separate accounts, a student’s meal plan, or points, and debit dollars. Students will be able to buy cigarettes with debit dollars or cash, but they will no longer be able to substitute cigarettes for meals.
“Others speculate that perhaps it was the University’s desire to promote health and wellness,” Porter said. “However, neither reason instigated the change.”
Nancy Haaga, director of Auxiliary and Institutional Services, said that if cigarettes were kept on the meal plans, the plans potentially could be taxed.
Chris Voss, chair of the Student Association’s Dining Services Commission, said the decision “came completely out of the blue.” He said neither he nor others with the commission were told about the policy change.
No notice was posted to notify Provisions Market customers. Many students got to the counter and found out they did not have enough cash to purchase the cigarettes because they were relying on their points.
Provisions Market manager Arnie Malin said he received some negative feedback.
“We’ve basically had complaints about it,” Malin said. “Some people are angry about it, but it wasn’t our decision. We were told to stop it.”
Sophomore Romie Stott said not allowing cigarettes to be purchased on points might help students budget better for their meals.
“Because of the way the point system is set up, many students may run out of points before the year is over, and thus not have enough food,” Stott said. “Therefore, from a budgeting point of view, the change makes sense.”
Malin said most Provisions Market customers are dealing with the cigarette situation.
“Most (customers) understand that the decision didn’t come from us,” Malin said.
Junior Prince Rozario said taking cigarettes off the meal plan is wrong.
“I don’t think it’s fair, because we already pay so much for tuition,” Rozario said. “Points are part of our meal plan, and we should be able to spend them whether it’s at the Chick-Fil-A, or the Marvin Center store, or at Taco Bell. We should be able to spend them on whatever we want to get.”
Freshman Stacy Rapacon said she thinks the change in policy is beneficial.
“I think it’s good that you can’t buy cigarettes on your meal plan, because that was just way too convenient for kids that smoked because they don’t have to spend any money on their cigarettes,” Rapacon said. “This should be a good way to discourage kids from smoking.”
Junior Christian Drucuvleri said the timing is the worst thing about the change.
“It was so convenient because at the beginning of the year all these kids were signing up for their meal plans, and they could buy cigarettes on points, and then a week later they just cut it off,” he said. “I have three roommates who all got meal plans just so they could get cigarettes on them, and now since the plan was cut out, they have nothing to do with those points.”
Junior Adam Meyers, who is a roommate of Drucuvleri, said he purchased the meal plan solely to purchase cigarettes.
“It’s kind of good because I spent all my points freshman year on cigarettes,” he said. “I just bought cartons with points. I didn’t eat. I just smoked cigarettes. And now, it’s kind of an inconvenience, but it could be worse. I guess I should stop smoking anyway.”