Smoking ban implements new rules, fines

Chris PIcazo, Opinions Editor

Eastern implemented a new campus-wide tobacco rule that comes with certain punishments if violated. The new ban has been met with negativity by some students.

On July 1, 2015, the tobacco ban, which prohibits smoking and other tobacco use on all campus property, both indoor and outdoor, was enacted.

The new rule is in accordance with the Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act.

Eric Davidson, associate director of health services, played a role in implementing the new campus policy along with Eastern’s Health Education Resource Center.

The ban is meant to reduce the amount of students who use tobacco products while in college, Davidson said.

With the new ban comes punishment if a student or employee were to violate the campus-wide policy.

A first-time violation will usually result in warning, but repeated offenders will be referred to the Office of Student Standards, Davidson said.

Davidson also said that, to help enforce the new policy, individuals can submit complaints to HERC using the online complaint forms.

“Once we get a complaint, we either investigate, or, depending upon the location or if an individual is named, we refer the complaint on to appropriate parties,” Davidson said.  “As of this time, we have received only a handful of complaints.”

Heather Webb, the director of student standards, said students who violate the no-smoking policy would be required to address the problem.

“Students who violate the policy would be required to meet with a staff member, and would be subject to sanctions from our office, including but not limited to fines,” Webb said.

Webb also said that they have not currently had to address any students who have violated the policy, but she is worried about the students who leave campus to smoke.

“We hope that those who do leave campus to smoke are courteous to our neighbors in Charleston by not leaving trash in these areas,” Webb said.  “The City of Charleston can issue littering citations to those who do leave a mess behind.”

Adam Due, the chief of the University Police Department, said that campus visitors would also be subject to the tobacco ban.

Due said there is officer discretion, but he believes most officers would issue a warning for a first offense.

Due also said a violation committed by an employee would be reported and handled by department supervisors.

Davidson said campus is responding well to the newly-enforced ban.

“The number of complaints submitted to my office, and the number of tobacco users that I have observed on campus is far fewer than what I had anticipated at this particular time,” Davidson said.

Davidson said it appeared that a majority of the campus seems to be abiding to the new policy.

With the new policy and rules also comes disagreement.

Matt Shannon, a junior marketing major, said he found the new policy to be unfair.

“I’m sure a large amount of students on campus smoke, and I don’t think that their voices were heard when they were deciding on the ban,” Shannon said.

Shannon said that the university did an “awful” job with letting students know in advance about the ban, and that he was uniformed about it at first.

“I didn’t know until the first time I stepped on campus,” Shannon said.  “I was literally smoking a cigarette, and my buddy told me that I couldn’t smoke on campus anymore… I had no idea.”

The university sent out an email on May 1, 2015, before the spring semester ended, telling students of the new policy taking effect on July 1.

Shannon also said that, even with the new policy, he still sees individuals smoking on campus every day.

“I’ve seen employees smoke, like dining hall employees, like non-students,” Shannon said.  They all smoke behind Thomas. Every day I see them.  I haven’t seen any campus police or anything enforcing it.”

Shannon said that while he understands that the university implemented the ban to help prevent smoking and stop secondhand smoke, he thinks the school should place smoking sections on campus.

“They don’t have to even be in the middle of the quad. I don’t care if I have to walk five minutes to smoke a cigarette, but I’m not trying to walk all the way back to my house to smoke a cigarette in between classes,” Shannon said.


Chris Picazo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]