Letter to the Editor | Smoke shops near campus undermine student safety

By Shania Dvorak

The University of Illinois is a smoke-free campus as under 410 ILCS 82, or the Smoke Free Illinois Act. 

Yet, there are 12 smoke shops and one dispensary in the 2.86-square-mile area highly populated by students, encompassed by University, Lincoln and Kirby avenues and Neil Street.

The smoke shops on campus often sell drug paraphernalia like nicotine and tobacco products, rolling papers, pipes and bongs or other receptacles for illicit substances, CBD and Delta 8 products. 

Students can purchase cannabis on campus at NuEra even though they cannot use it on campus property, including student housing. 

The location of several smoke shops — including Hailey’s, Evergreen Tobacco and Smoke Station 999 — is near the Counseling Center, a primary resource for those seeking substance use treatment. Students who go to the Center to complete an Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment must pass several of these shops.

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    The AOD team at the Counseling Center advocates for a harm reduction approach, which focuses on helping students with problematic substance use achieve their goals of making life more manageable. 

    The harm reduction approach is a public health approach that focuses on limiting the harmful consequence of drug use free of stigma and on the needs of people who use drugs. Surrounding the campus environment with shops encouraging substance use makes achieving harm reduction goals for some students difficult. 

    I leave you with a thought: Imagine a campus environment that aligns with the intent of the Smoke-Free Illinois Act by limiting the presence of smoke shops and cannabis dispensaries. 

    As a community, this type of campus recognizes the needs of students trying to build an environment that limits the negative impacts of substance use.

     

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