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Discussions in progress about a tobacco-free campus

October 25th, 2012

Since the Royal College of Physicians in Great Britain first released a report about health risks associated with tobacco in 1962, many laws have been passed to reduce or eliminate the amount of tobacco in public places, such as restaurants, places of employment and schools. Since 1995, John Carroll University has enforced a “smoke-free campus” policy that forbids smoking in all buildings on campus, including residence halls. This policy also requires people who smoke to remain at least 20-50 feet away from the entrance, in order to reduce the exposure of nonsmokers to the carcinogens in second-hand smoke.

However, the Student Union may try to pass legislation prohibiting all tobacco use on campus. Student Union President Greg Petsche said, “We are not trying to pass this [legislation] right now, and the Student Union hasn’t officially expressed a stance on the topic at all.”

According to Petsche, the senate Committee on Facilities and Residence Life and Executive Vice President Steve Palmieri will assess the feasibility of having an entirely tobacco-free campus by discussing the issue with members of the faculty, staff and administration. Palmieri and the committee will also collect feedback from students to judge whether or not a tobacco-free campus would be a realistic proposition.

Many colleges and universities in Ohio have already adopted tobacco-free policies on their campuses, including Hocking College, Malone College and Ohio Christian University.

Sophomores Kayley Jones and Lexi Korczynski both like the idea of an entirely tobacco-free campus.

Jones said, “I consider campus a public place, like a restaurant; and since smoking isn’t allowed in restaurants or other public places, I don’t think it should be allowed on campus. I think that I have a right to have clean air.”

Korczynski agreed with Jones. “I think it’s really annoying when I’m walking to class in the morning, and I’m stuck behind a smoker.” She also finds the cigarette butts all over campus to be particularly off-putting.

Korczynski added, “The area behind Millor is filled with cigarette butts, and it looks really dirty and disgusting.”

Although both Jones and Korczynski agreed that while the idea of an entirely tobacco-free campus would be nice, neither of them will become activists for the cause. Korczynski said, “I like the idea of a tobacco-free campus, but I’m not going to start picketing about it.”

Junior Kelly Carter, agreed with this and expressed the concern that having a totally tobacco-free campus would be hard to enforce.

She said, “I wouldn’t mind [the legislation] because I’m not a smoker, but it would be hard to enforce these rules because people already break the current smoking policy,” referring to the fact that many smokers do not stand 20-50 feet away from the entrances of buildings and are sometimes inconsiderate to nonsmokers.

However, Carter does not believe that the Student Union can control the actions of individuals and believes that smokers are not that much of a problem on campus. She said, “They [the Student Union] can’t tell people how to live their lives all the time, and the smokers are not really affecting anyone too much.” She also feels that having a tobacco free campus would be a cause for unrest among smokers.

“There aren’t that many people who smoke, but if this legislation is passed then people would probably rebel. The people who do smoke don’t want to be told what they can and can’t do to their bodies,” said Carter.

Joe Traylor, a junior and a smoker, also agrees with Carter. He said, “The law says you only have to be 18 to smoke and I only smoke outside, so I don’t know why John Carroll should be able to tell me differently.”

However, he also stated that a new tobacco-free policy would not change his attitude about smoking. He said, “I’ll probably still be able to smoke on campus anyway because a policy like that would be too hard to enforce, especially since a lot of the faculty and staff smoke too.”