Smoking ban on campus in 2014
The Illinois State Legislature is currently in the process of considering a state-wide ban on smoking for state-sponsored college campuses. The bill was recently passed by the Senate and is currently under the consideration of the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill will require UIS, and other state-supported universities and colleges, to institute smoke-free policies by July 2014.
As a point of reference, the other two University of Illinois campuses have plans to prohibit smoking long before the proposed implementation deadline. According to UIS Chancellor Susan Koch, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign campus will go smoke free by January 2014, and the University of Illinois at Chicago will ban smoking later this summer.
In order to examine the matter, Chancellor Koch will organize a task force, “to consider the issue and make recommendations.” However, any decisions on the matter will not come for some time, since the task force, “will begin its work in a comprehensive way in the fall of 2013.”
Students have mixed feelings about the legislation and the smoking ban on campus. Non-smoker and senior Katie Brust feels that the new policies would be a step in the right direction. “Second-hand smoke kills thousands every year, so any method that might cut that down is definitely a good thing.” However, smokers feel persecuted and victimized by the legislation. Smoker and junior Joseph Long argues that, “these laws are making us second class citizens. While I can understand banning smoking inside buildings, banning it on the campus in general is excessive.”
Of course enforcement of these rules will probably remain the largest issue should the bill be passed. It is one thing to institute a ban on smoking, but it is another to prevent smoking altogether. Since the law would require a much larger police presence to adequately monitor the campus, some students plan to largely ignore the ban. “I don’t care what the law says, if I need a smoke, I’ll have one,” explained a smoker who wished to remain anonymous. “We’ve always had to go somewhere else to get our nicotine fix, now I will just have to be more careful about it.”
There is a little bit of good news for smokers, however. First of all, the ban only extends to campus, so a smoker simply needs to leave campus briefly for a smoke. Second, there is an explicit exception in the legislation that would allow for smoking on campus. According the to the bill posted on the Illinois General Assembly website, the ban on smoking, “shall not apply to any instance in which an individual is traveling through or parked on campus in a vehicle that is not owned by a State-supported institution of higher education.” This means those smokers who own cars can circumvent the ban by smoking in them.
Thus, students who live on campus without a means of transportation and those students who commute to school by bus will be the most affected by this bill. Not to mention the staff and faculty members who may not have sufficient time to take smoke breaks now that they have to either walk to their vehicles or leave campus.