Students speak up about Smoke-Free Campus Policy

By Janet Kim

By Janet Kim
Contributing writer

Is the Smoke-Free Campus Policy effectively enforced?

Starting Jan. 1, 2014, the University implemented a smoke-free campus policy with modifications occurring earlier this year. This entails no smoking, no advertising and no littering of any tobacco products on any campus-owned properties. If caught violating this policy, citations and fines are issued.

Michele Guerra, director of the UI Wellness Center, feels this policy will overall benefit campus and its residents. 

“The primary benefits of that policy and the reason that we did it, is to literally create a smoke-free environment so that the air that our entire campus goes through, whether it be student, faculty, staff visitor’s, does not have secondhand smoke,” Guerra said.

Despite the University’s measures to prevent secondhand smoking through its policy, Secilia Cox, junior in LAS, has only been approached once while smoking on campus. However, she is not changing her habits because she believes this policy cannot be enforced effectively.

“The problem with the policy is the lack of enforcement,” Cox said. “I know that I can get away with smoking anywhere. I feel no need to limit my smoking as an off-campus activity. The repercussions (of being caught smoking on campus) mainly affect the population of students in residence halls. Because I live off campus, getting caught smoking on campus is not that big of a deal.”

Since the smoking policy’s implementation, Jacob Block, junior in ACES, sees this policy as a small obstacle to his everyday life. He takes in tobacco products daily, whether walking the dog, waiting for a bus or studying.

“No one that I’ve talked to has quit smoking because of the ban, and I have never heard of it actually being enforced,” Block explained. “The policy doesn’t really hinder me. It just makes me feel a little uncomfortable about smoking but not uncomfortable enough not to do it.”

Block occasionally smokes on campus, but he could be fined. According to the smoke-free campus policy, students caught smoking on campus are given a written warning. The second offense results in a $25 fine, while the third results in a fine that is $50. For any additional offense, students are fined a total of $100. Source: http://www.campusrec.illinois.edu/Smoke-Free/documents/Enforcements_000.pdf

He said the University should at least designate smoking areas because some people cannot quit right away while others choose not to quit at all. Block said this cannot happen overnight. 

According to Guerra, however, there is no future possibility of designated smoking areas on campus.

“The committee looked into that when we were forming the policy, and the purpose of the policy was to rid the campus of secondhand smoke and have a smoke-free campus,” Guerra said. “If we have designated areas for smoking on campus then we’re not a smoke-free campus because we would have areas where people could not walk through because of secondhand smoke.”

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