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Smoking ban lights up debate amongst students

Smoking ban lights up debate amongst students

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Students are split on a potential smoking ban for the UIS campus. In an informal survey, 57 percent said they were for a ban of smoking on campus.

Anna Wersing, freshman biology major, said she was against the ban, even as a non-smoker.

“I’m against banning smoking on campus because it’s a college campus and we’re all adults,” Wersing said. “We should be able to choose whether or not we want to smoke.  It’s [our] choice and if people that don’t smoke don’t go around the areas, then they have nothing to complain about.”

Her opinion mirrored much of the other students’ around campus for those who claimed they were against the ban.

Those for a ban cited their personal breathing space as reason enough to ban it from campus.

Jemilla Sadick-Raji, senior visual arts major, is against smoking because of the known second-hand smoke damage.

“It’s better for those who don’t smoke, and for your health in general,” she said.

Several students also said they were indifferent to the possibility of a ban, even though they weren’t smokers. These students frequently said they simply didn’t care.

Picture 3Laura Alexander, director of Human Resources, is heading a campus-wide task force to look into a new smoking and tobacco policy that could ban smoking on campus.

Chancellor Susan Koch appointed her to, “study the feasibility of changing the smoking policies on campus,” Alexander said.

The task force spans from all entities on campus.  On the board are representatives from branches including athletics, housing and academics. Alexander is also working with two student body task forces, undergraduate and graduate. Dane Vincent heads to the undergraduate group and Kyle Noland runs the graduate group.

Vincent, who also serves as internal vice president for the Student Government Association, has openly voiced his opposition to the ban.

Alexander chose a diverse group to make sure as much information as possible was collected before recommending a change.

“We wanted to make sure we hear[d] from everybody. The chancellor is very interested in hearing from a change in the smoking policy would affect on the student and employee side,” she said. “The chancellor wants to be in a position where we’re not lagging behind the curve. She wants to make sure we’re studying it in a reasonable time frame.”

The task force will examine the smoking and tobacco policies on UIS’ sister campuses. In at UIC, there is a ban on all tobacco products, implemented last summer. At UIUC, Chancellor Phyllis Wise adopted a policy that made the campus, “a 100 percent smoke-free environment,” according to a report from the Smoke Free Ad Hoc Committee.

The policy also banned smoking in personal vehicles in campus parking lots and e-cigarettes.

But the ban may come from under the dome instead of inside of the chancellor’s office. Senate Bill 2202, the Smoke Free Campus Act, has been introduced to the House of Representatives after passing through the Senate.

Under the SB 2202, “smoking is prohibited on each campus of a State-supported institution of higher education” and “each State-supported institution of higher education shall establish a community task force for the purpose of coordinating with community and campus leaders for the implementation of the Act.”

If passed, the state-mandated smoking ban will go into effect July 1, 2014.

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