The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Smoking on campus up for debate

Eastern’s Tobacco Coalition has traveled to the Charleston City Council, the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate to promote its belief in the “Free Air Initiative,” which would limit smokers to the 60 designated smoking areas on campus.

While the city council was in favor of the resolution, the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate both tabled the resolution until next semester.

Sheila Baker, the medical director of Health Service, is a part of the Tobacco Coalition and said she wants to make the campus more comfortable for non-smokers while respecting the rights of smokers.

“We aren’t trying to prohibit smokers from the opportunity, but we would like to limit non-smokers exposure to smoke,” Baker said.

This was not the first time the Tobacco Coalition has tried to get the air initiative approved on campus, Baker said.

“We attempted to get our campus smoke-free about five years ago, however, that was exactly that time that Dr. Perry became president of the university,” she said. “Dr. Perry did not say no, but he wanted to get a chance to get to know the campus.”

Baker said the organization thought Perry had had enough time to get acclimated with the university and its students.

Eastern would not be the only public university in the country that has become smoke-free.

Baker said she got the idea for the initiative by researching a similar program used at Ball State University in Indiana; Ball State has 18,000-20,000 students.

According to Ball State University’s website, the university became a smoke-free campus on March 17, 2008, where smokers would receive a $50 fine for each violation.

“Since (Ball State) implemented it they have only had 19 violations- that’s not very much,” Baker said.

If the resolution is put in place then Baker said the University Police Department and student standards would be in charge of establishing a demerit system for both students and professors.

“Many times we can just be friendly, we can be civil and just say ‘oh I’m sorry you are going to need to take it to a designated area,'” Baker said.

Up to 10 percent of lung cancer is now found in people who were not smokers themselves, but a lot of those people who were in work environments where smoking was allowed, Baker said.

Baker said 400,000 people die each year from the effects of smoke.

“We used to tell people that smoking was the risk factor for lung cancer but we are seeing it even in non-smokers now,” Baker said.

Kim Roth, a junior family and consumer sciences major, said she would like to see smokers limited to the 60 locations.

“It’s kind of annoying when I have to get to a class and have to walk through their smoke to get inside the building,” Roth said.

Krista Stephens, a sophomore psychology major, said she would not want to go to an entire smoke-free campus.

“I do try to be cautious of where I smoke and where I blow my smoke,” Stephens said.

Stephens said she would be the last smoker to comply with a smoke-free campus.

College students do not like to be told what to do, but other people’s lives are at stake, Baker said.

“College students smoke at a higher percentage than the rest of the adult population; so there’s something about college students and risky behavior that seem to go hand in hand,” Baker said.

Tony Hoh, a military science instructor, said smokers might use the 60 different provided smoking areas if the areas were in better conditions.

“We’ll use it if you make it useable,” Hoh said.

Hoh also said if the Tobacco Coalition wants non-smokers to use the designated area then it needs to have signs put in visible places.

Lauren Holschbach, a senior family and consumer sciences major, said the issue has more to do with people having common courtesy for other people more than an overall smoking issue.

“If I’m walking to class I don’t want someone blowing smoke in my direction,” Holschbach said.

Julie Blessman, a senior art major, said she rarely notices people smoking around her.

“I noticed it more when I was a freshman but not I’ve just gotten used to it,” Blessman said.

Doyrail Boyd, a sophomore communication studies major, said smokers should only have to abide by the current state law.

“There’s no state law saying smokers can only smoke at certain places so why should the school press that upon us,” Boyd said.

Student Body President Michelle Murphy, a senior communication studies major, said would rather see the enforcement of the state-and-university mandated law that states smokers must be 15 feet from all doors.

“If this is moving Eastern towards being smoke-free then I don’t support that,” Murphy said.

Baker said she would like to see Eastern gradually start the process of becoming a primarily smoke-free campus.

“The goal is to start restricting where people can smoke, see how our community reacts to it- for right now we (need) to start making steps,” Baker said.

Nike Ogunbodede can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

Smoking on campus up for debate


The dots represent designated smoking areas on campus. (Illustration by Nike Ogunbodede )


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