Smoking and using tobacco products in any way will not be allowed on Eastern’s campus starting July 1.
The policy applies to all individual on campus property including students, faculty, staff, volunteers, visitors and other members of the public, and is applicable at all times, according to an email sent Friday by Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs.
The state of Illinois passed the Smoke-Free Campus Act in August 2014 that prohibits the use of all tobacco products on state-supported institutions, including Eastern; the law will finally take effect in July.
The law defines campus as all property, including buildings, grounds, parking lots and university-owned vehicles.
According to the act, the governing board of the university must implement this act and enforce policies in manners including but not limited to disciplinary action, fines and an appeals process.
The prohibition does not apply to private vehicles traveling through campus.
President Bill Perry said the smoking ban would be a change for students who actively use tobacco products.
“It’s the law in Illinois, all public universities campus have to meet the requirements of the law,” Perry said. ”We don’t have any choice, and I think it’s a positive thing to do from the standpoint of health.”
Perry said the reason Eastern decided to tell its students and faculty about the change was because it would give them time to think about how they will deal with it.
“Part of the legislative attempt was for us to have a committee,” Perry said. “(We also) wanted to let people know as soon as possible about the change so people can plan accordingly.”
Perry also said faculty and staff needed to know ahead of time so they can plan for next year.
“People need to make plans,” Perry said. “Maybe they want to take advantages of the smoking sensation programs.”
Patrick Muhne, a freshman kinesiology and sports studies major, said he supports the idea of Eastern being a smoke-free campus. He is also focusing on health studies for his major.
“Being a part of this campus I believe it is a good thing that Eastern has become a smoke-free campus,” Muhne said. “That might be because I don’t smoke, but for people that do I see why there might be some anger with the decision. I think it will be good to walk to class and not get the whiff of smoke. It will help the campus stay clean.”
Muhne also said he understands why Eastern waited until the week before finals to let students know of the policy change
“I do not smoke. I do not see it as a horrible thing but in my life I see a couple of reasons of why I should not smoke,” Muhne said. “I want to stay healthy and I don’t want a stick in my mouth to take my health away.”
Muhne said another reason why he is in support is because of money.
“I’m a freshman in college that has many other financial responsibilities that need to come first, so paying $10 or more on a pack of cigarettes doesn’t work for me,” Muhne said.
Ryan Brown, a junior accounting major, said he understand the new policy; however, he does not think the policy should include items like e-cigarettes or vaporizers.
“For students that do smoke a lot, it’s going to make life a lot harder because they don’t have anywhere to smoke anymore,” Brown said. “I don’t see a problem or harm with e-cigarettes or vaporizers. I thinking banning them is a little extreme because there aren’t as many proven health risks and there isn’t any second-hand smoke from those.”
Angelo Blaney, a sophomore art major, said he doesn’t believe the policy will have much impact of students.
“I don’t think the policy will make an impact on students at all if there is no one to enforce the new policy,” Blaney said. “There are already signs saying not to smoke within 15 feet of a door, yet people don’t care and continue to smoke in front of doors anyway.”
Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]