University smoking ban in effect but still unclear

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The new year rang in several new Illinois laws and a new controversial smoking ban at the University, which adopted policy following a growing national trend to eliminate any potential risks associated with secondhand smoke.

The ban prohibits the burning of any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on campus-owned or –leased property, which is somewhat broken and scattered across many blocks between University Avenue and the South Farms, as well as between Neil and Race streets. 

For students and employees who smoke, that can mean a pretty hefty walk to a place unaffected by the ban.

The map issued by the University that shows the reach of the smoking ban depicts how difficult it will be to enforce it: The campus is enormous. And maybe that’s the point.

By categorically banning all smoking on campus and by placing several locations around campus to help people quit, the policy perhaps may not aim to catch and fine people, such as when police bust a party for underage drinking. 

Rather, it seems that the ban will create a greater stigma about smoking in general as a way of encouraging people on campus to quit smoking.

Creating a stigma makes sense considering that the University’s principal reasoning for the ban is the reduction of secondhand smoke, which, as many critics have pointed out, you’ll likely never be exposed to for long enough to do measurable damage because of the sheer size of the campus.

The University also introduced an online form that people can submit if individuals are found to be in violation of the policy — a cost-effective way of demonstrating that the ban is real but that continually policing costs time and money.

Essentially, the University and police have better things to do than to slap tickets on the occasional smoker here and there.

Although the University Police Department may not be able to strictly enforce the ban, we still encourage students to kick the habit because of the insurmountable evidence that smoking kills frequently. For that, we do hope that the ban encourages people to quit, even if it may come off as some kind of violation of personal rights by the University. 

Eight quitting centers are distributed evenly throughout campus, allowing for easily accessible help regardless if students live in campus’ surrounding apartments or University Housing. 

According to the policy, you are not allowed to smoke in your privately owned vehicle. That means, if you are on campus property, you are in violation of the policy if you smoke in your car, no matter how sealed you believe it to be.

It’s still not clear if you can smoke on sidewalks adjacent to non-University-owned sidewalks but are still adjacent to University-owned property. The map is detailed, sure, but it lacks that important detail.

But as we reflect on the possible success or demise of the smoking ban, we have to realize that it’s not just students and faculty accommodating to the new policy, it’s an entire university — and all its streets, buildings and people that come along with it.