UIPD hopes not to ticket smoking violations

By Christin Watkins

Since the University imposed fines for smoking violations on campus on Sept. 8, Deputy Chief Skip Frost, of the University of Illinois Police Department, estimated the amount of fines collected has totaled $200 or less.

In accordance with the Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act the University established a series of citations and fines to enforce the smoking ban put into place in January 2014.

First time offenders are issued a warning, second time offenders are issued a citation and a $25 fine that can be waived through an educational video. People found in violation of the ban a third time will be issued a citation and a $50 fine and every violation following warrants a $100 fine.

It’s too early to know how effective the campaign is, said Brian Farber, executive assistant to the associate vice chancellor of student affairs.

“Colleagues have said, ‘I don’t see people smoking out there anymore,’ because now there is a mechanism for immediate and significant reaction for violations of the policy,” Farber said.

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Frost said he believes fewer people are smoking on campus because people understand there are rules now.

Any citations issued will be given to the University Parking Department, Farber said.

He said the parking department is tasked with collecting and enforcing the fines because the department already has the software needed for fine collection.

Farber said he wants as few fines as possible to be issued, as that would indicate an observance of the smoking ban.

“It is our hope that we will collect very little by way of fines with this policy and system,” Farber said.

He said students should call the non-emergency METCAD phone number if they see anyone violating this ban, but these calls will be of a low priority to the UIPD.

“If you call METCAD and we had officers who were involved in other duties, this would not be at the top of the list,” Frost said.

Farber hopes students will call if they find someone who is not in compliance with the ban in order to ensure the health of those on campus. He said the goal of the new system is to inform everyone of the ban and prevent infractions from occurring.

“It is our goal that this process will be educational and will get people to comply and understand where the boundaries of campus are and where they are not allowed to smoke on our smoke-free campus,” Farber said.

Lucas Goldschmidt, freshman in ACES, said he supports the University’s anti-smoking campaign.

“I don’t smoke, so I think it’s nice not having to worry about second-hand smoke,” he said.

Goldschmidt said he hasn’t seen many people smoking since he’s been on campus but he finds the recently imposed citation system to be appropriate for those who violate the ban.

“It seems reasonable that the first time (you violate the ban) you don’t get in trouble for it,” he said. “I don’t know what else you could do besides (issue) a fine.”

Frost said some people disagree with the police’s involvement in enforcing the Smoke-Free Campus Act.

He said police department’s goal is to enforce laws that are put into place, and they are not responsible for the decision to create these laws.

“[The police department] doesn’t legislate anything. We did not come up with this idea to make it a smoke-free campus,” Frost said. “However, the enforcement of it is our responsibility, so our officers and our security staff are going to be responsive.”

Frost said the department hopes everyone continues to abide by the law, so smoking on campus won’t have to be a concern for anyone.

“What we’re really looking for is voluntary compliance,” he said. “It would be ideal for us if we never got a call about a smoker on U. of I. property.”

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