Student Government Seeks Campus-Wide Smoking Ban

Zachary Jones | The PHOENIX Loyola's smokers might have to leave campus before lighting up if student government enacts a new smoking ban.

Loyola student government hopes the ashtrays in front of most buildings on Loyola’s campuses — and the cigarette butts that litter the ground around them ­— may soon be gone

Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) is working on legislation that would ban cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco from Loyola’s campuses. Electronic cigarettes would not be included in the ban.

Smoking is already prohibited indoors and within 15 feet of any entrance to enclosed spaces on campus, in accordance with Chicago’s Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. A smoke-free campus would mean smokers would have to leave any land owned or maintained by Loyola before lighting up.

Enacting a tobacco-free initiative, which was the topic of a student referendum in spring 2016, is a top priority for sophomore Caila Anderson, chair of SGLC’s Safety and Wellness Committee.

Students voted in favor of a smoking ban in August 2016, but as The Phoenix reported then, voter turnout was low enough that the referendum couldn’t be taken as an accurate representation of student opinion.

Only 28 percent of students voted in Loyola’s 2016 student election, The Phoenix reported.

“The point of the referendum was not to decide on the legislation,” Anusha Mannam, SGLC’s vice president said. “In order to pass a legislation like that, we would need two-thirds of the student body to vote on it.”

This means it will likely take a long time for a campus-wide smoking ban to be enacted.

“This is likely going to be a multi-year process,” Jacob Dumbauld, president of SGLC, said. “If we’re going to move forward [with the ban], then we need everyone’s input …  including Loyola’s faculty and contractors, as well as students.”

About 15 percent of Loyola undergraduates and 9 percent of graduate students said they smoked cigarettes within the past 30 days, according to the university’s 2016 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment, a yearly survey of health concerns on college campuses.

Anderson clarified that a ban wouldn’t be carried out without input from Loyola students.

Before enacting the legislation, the SGLC will send an email questionnaire to the entire student body to find out if students would support a ban.

“Even though [SGLC] is a body that speaks for the whole campus, we aren’t the whole campus,” Anderson said. “I want to know what the student body wants. If it turns out they don’t want a tobacco-free campus, I need to know that information.”

Anderson said she hopes to send out the email questionnaire within the next month or two. The questionnaire would not pass the legislation, but would provide SGLC with student input on the ban.

Any costs the ban may incur have not been determined, but the Safety and Wellness Committee are looking into possible costs before providing a final legislation to the Senate, according to Anderson.

Other Jesuit universities have already made their campuses tobacco free. Marquette University in Milwaukee banned smoking on campus in August, and Creighton University of Omaha, Nebraska has been tobacco-free since 2008.

Last year, SGLC Safety and Wellness Committee chair Sidney Joseph looked at Marquette and Creighton’s policies when considering Loyola’s potential ban, according to Anderson.

Creighton University’s Tobacco-Free Policy doesn’t mention any punitive measures for students violating the ban, and entrusts students and faculty with enforcing it.

“All faculty, staff, students and visitors have a right and an obligation to request a tobacco user to cease using their tobacco product and explain Creighton University’s tobacco-free campus policy,” Creighton’s official policy reads.

Speaker of SGLC Kathleen Meis will be in contact with the student government of Marquette and Creighton to better understand how their bans have been enforced according to Mannam.

Loyola’s location in an urban environment poses a particular challenge to SGLC.

“We’re going to have conversations with Campus Safety about proper signage and where the ban would be enforced,” Dumbauld said.

Creighton’s no-smoking policy also includes a commitment to providing students and faculty with help should they want to quit smoking, including access to nicotine gum and prescription smoking cessation drugs such as Chantix.

Loyola’s Health and Wellness Center already provides students and faculty with counseling to help quit smoking, but does not provide nicotine replacements such as nicotine gum or patches.

Curbing the number of cigarette butts littered on the ground may be a more important concern on Loyola’s campus than others due to its proximity to Lake Michigan.

A 2005 National Institute of Health study found that chemicals from cigarette butts were highly toxic to freshwater microorganisms after they leached into the groundwater, and whole cigarette butts could be deadly to larger organisms.

SGLC will work with Loyola’s Student Environmental Alliance to perform a scientific study to determine the environmental effects of cigarette butts littered on campus, according to Anderson.

Loyola’s campuses have ashtrays in front of most buildings, and in the opinion of Melissa Soriano, a junior computer science major, students appeared to be responsible with their cigarette butts.

“Our campus is pretty clean,” said Soriano, 21. “I hardly notice any cigarette butts on the ground at all. I don’t really see a problem with the ban, it would only help the environment.”

Loyola student Kabir Dalawari, a sophomore molecular biology major, was supportive of a tobacco-free campus initiative.

“I totally get why other people might take [a ban] negatively, but, to me, it’s a good thing,” Dalawari, 19, said. “From my understanding a lot of students don’t smoke. Sometimes second-hand smoke for me is gross [because] I have asthma.”

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