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Filed under Opinion

Smoking policies on campus remain undefined

Smoking policies on campus remain undefined

Smoking is bad for you.

It’s a simple statement, but one that seems to be commonly debated. Even more debated is the claim that second-hand smoke can also have a negative effect on your health.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports on their website that there is, “no risk-free level of exposure to
second hand smoke.”

Second-hand smoke increases your chance of having heart disease, lung cancer and many other health-related issues, according to the CDC website.

Now let me be clear in saying that I do not think smokers are bad people in any way. I have numerous friends and family members who smoke, and it doesn’t change how I feel toward them in the least.

It is completely legal to smoke. And, in general, I would say the majority of smokers are courteous to those around them with their actions.

So let’s keep in mind that although there is evidence second-hand smoke can increase the risk of health issues, smokers are still indeed good people.

Factoring these things in, I have been a bit perplexed by the smoking policies on campus over the last few years.

They have morphed many times, which for smokers, would make it pretty hard to know if and where it was ‘OK’ to smoke on campus.

Student Senate first passed a bill supporting a ‘comprehensive assessment of on-campus involuntary tobacco exposure,’ in November 2009.

Then in May of 2010, Student Senate passed a resolution to revise the university’s tobacco policy.

Basically, it said that they supported the following:

1.) Smoking would be permitted in university owned parking lots, smoking areas on upper-campus, or in outdoor areas within 25 feet of loading docks.

2.) Smoking would be prohibited on all other university-owned properties.

The resolution also said that they wanted to implement these policies by Sept. 1, 2010, and that smoking receptacles should be removed from locations that would be prohibited by this policy.

It also pointed out that enforcement would depend on everyone’s cooperation.

From what I recall, the resolution never really seemed to be adopted by anyone.

After that, Student Senate passed a resolution in December 2010 attempting to create a “sensible smoking and tobacco policy on campus.”

In summary, it said they were aware the University Senate was considering a motion to ban tobacco use on campus entirely, and that they had opposed an initiative for a tobacco-free campus in the past.

The resolution went on to point out many flaws in the motion the University Senate was considering. Basically, I interpreted it to say that Student Senate didn’t think the idea of a tobacco-free campus was the best option for everyone (with many legitimate reasons), and that they were looking for a compromise.

A solution where students and faculty who smoke — particularly those living on campus — would be confined to a few locations, instead of banned altogether.

The next day (Dec. 7), University Senate still passed their resolution stating, “the use of tobacco and tobacco products be prohibited on all state-owned UWEC campus properties.”

In a press release from the News Bureau, it said the chancellor had been forwarded the resolution, and that he would try to make a decision by spring 2011. As of now, no action has been taken.

After speaking with Mike Rindo, the university’s executive director of communications, I found out that the chancellor formed a committee to figure out what the best option was.

Rindo said that they are expected to present their findings to the chancellor in the next few weeks, and that he will make a decision then.

At this point, any decision would be better than leaving the smokers and non-smokers alike in limbo throughout the process.

As a smoker, it must be confusing that these policies exist, then don’t exist, then contradict each other.

As a non-smoking student, I’d prefer something other than nothing be done about smoking on campus. I’m not sure that a complete tobacco-ban on campus is fair to everyone involved, so I am happy with just limiting the areas where people can smoke.

I find it pretty ironic that the University Senate supports a tobacco-free campus enough that they oppose the idea of a compromise. So instead of already having an agreed solution, they’ve allowed people to continue smoking any place on campus.

All I know is I hope the chancellor acts swiftly after receiving his recommendations, and that his decision for the campus will not be fluid.

An official policy that doesn’t change would be most courteous to smokes, while also finally giving non-smokers a reasonable solution.

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