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The Daily Illini

Current smoke-free campus policy is not working, a new plan is needed

Margaret Kots

Margaret Kots

By Brian Loh

After a night of studying at the wonderful Grainger Engineering Library, I decided I needed a breath of fresh, chilly Illinois air. I made my way through the labyrinth of study cubicles and opened the door to the outer world.

Upon opening the door, instead of breathing in the nice, brisk air of the cool, fall evening, I inhaled tar, ash, smoke and the other 7,000 chemicals in a cigarette.

Coughing and sputtering, I turned around to go back inside when I saw a small sign on the door. As I inspected the sign carefully, I saw an amusing choice of words considering my current circumstance: “Smoke-Free Campus.”

All around campus, you’ll see signs that say the University is smoke-free. According to the the campus website, the University has been a smoke-free campus since the beginning of 2014. As of July 2015, the University implemented a progressive system of citations and fines to help further the notion of a smoke-free campus. On paper, it sounds delightful; students, faculty, staff and visitors don’t need to worry about the problems of secondhand smoke while on campus.

The reality, however, is quite different. Take a stroll around the Undergraduate Library’s main entrance, and you’ll find an area littered with cigarette butts. Or, just look at the floor of the north entrance of Grainger. These two areas are clearly University property, but based on the amount of cigarette butts on the ground, there seems to be no actual enforcement of the smoke-free policy.

There are a couple of reasons why the smoking policy isn’t strictly enforced. Mainly, University police have more important things to worry about than ticketing someone taking a smoke break. Additionally, the citations and fines are given out by campus security guards, and, rumor has it, there aren’t very many security guards assigned to this duty.

Because the University wants to be completely smoke-free, there aren’t any ashtrays or cigarette receptacles on campus. As a result, cigarette butts are littered on the ground.

These issues have prompted me to propose a more reasonable smoking policy on campus to maintain a better-looking campus. Instead of a completely smoke-free campus, I believe there should be designated smoking areas on campus that contain cigarette receptacles. This is a tried-and-true policy that is implemented in many theme parks, including Disney World.

This policy works because everyone gets what they want. There is no littering because the designated smoking areas contain proper cigarette disposal units, smokers get to smoke and the effects of secondhand smoke are minimized as these areas are secluded from non-smoking areas.

I know that changing a policy is time consuming and wouldn’t take effect for a while, so a temporary fix is needed. In my opinion, the best idea would be to place cigarette receptacles in common smoking areas, such as outside areas of Grainger and the Undergraduate Library. This way, at least the campus aesthetics won’t suffer from the smokers’ littering.

Brian is a junior in Engineering.

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1 Comment

  • Elan Karoll

    I think that proposal is fine, and I agree it works at certain places like Disney World. However, there also needs to be much stricter enforcement of current rules and higher penalties to discourage the behavior. I too see violation of our smoke-free campus policy pretty much every day. It’s disgusting and a public health issue. An updated policy is also needed regarding vaping, which the current smoke-free campus rules do not address.