Cloudy Plans for a Smoke-free Loyola

Loyola’s student government is looking into making campus smoke-free. It’s just a question of how and when.

The proposal for a smoke-free campus first appeared as a referendum on the ballot during the March 2016 Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) elections. Sixty-five percent of students who voted on the referendum cast a vote in favor of the policy, according to the SGLC Election Board.

The result of the referendum gives SGLC an incentive to move forward and create a policy, said vice president of SGLC Adam Roberts, a communication and sociology double major.

“It’s something that the students have said loud and clear that they want and that’s something we’re going to work [toward],” said the 20-year-old junior.

Loyola’s current non-smoking policy, which was adopted in 2006, prohibits smoking “at all times in all enclosed, university facilities without exception … [including] common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairways, restrooms, locker room, dressing areas and all other enclosed facilities,” according to Loyola’s Human Resources webpage.

Additionally, anyone who wishes to smoke on campus must do so at least 15 feet away from any building entrance.

But when it comes to specifics on what a possible smoke-free campus initiative could look like at Loyola, Roberts said there’s still more research to be done and that the referendum was only meant to gauge students’ opinions.

“We don’t want to rush this because we understand the importance and the interest of all of our students,” Roberts said. “It’s still undecided. There’s no policy written, and I think that’s important to stress.”

Although he’s uncertain whether or not Loyola’s smoke-free campus policy would include designated smoking areas or impose a complete ban, Roberts said the idea of a smoking ban was designed to benefit students’ health, rather than target students who smoke.

“By no means are we kicking smokers off of campus at all,” Roberts said.

It’s also uncertain whether a smoke-free policy would ban only cigarettes, or also vapes and e-cigarettes. Roberts said many of those decisions would come after more research and student input.

“We’re going through these stages. What do students want? … It’s really up to students and … that’s what the referendum is,” Roberts said.

In addition to action from SGLC, a smoke-free policy would also need support from faculty senate, staff council and University Senate before going to the university’s Cabinet for approval, according to assistant Vice president and Dean of students K.C. Mmeje.

With the number of other colleges in Chicago that have gone smoke-free, it’s not out of the question for Loyola, Mmeje said.

“[A smoke-free campus] can be done, but it’s something that will require cooperation and discussion, a lot of dialogue amongst the university stakeholder groups,” Mmeje said. “You would have to appoint a group to study [the issue].”

While many students support the idea of a completely smoke-free Loyola, others agree that designated smoking areas should exist to accommodate students who regularly smoke.

“I know it’s your own personal decision to smoke, but you’re also affecting the people around you,” said first-year student Israa AlZamli an 18-year-old journalism and business double major who supports establishing designated smoking areas on campus.

Sophomore Giselle Medina said she thinks designated smoking areas are a practical strategy.

“With a complete ban, there’s no way to ensure everyone won’t smoke,” said Medina, a 19-year-old film and digital media major. “At least with a designated smoking area, the smokers [won’t be] as angry … than if they had to go somewhere off campus.”

Some students, like first-year student Bruno Riguzzi, think the proposal is unnecessary.

“I have no issues with people [smoking on campus],” said Riguzzi, an 18-year-old biochemistry and philosophy double major. He said that the 15-foot smoking boundary from facilities is enough.

Loyola students may not be making as big of an impact on the decision as it seems. While the referendum passed with a majority in favor, student voter turnout was only 28 percent of the entire student body — 3,109 students out of an estimated 11,079 undergraduates. That means that an estimated 2,020 students voted “yes” for a smoke-free campus. which is only 18 percent of students voting on a campus-wide policy.  

The degree of difficulty to enforce this policy of this type depends on the requirements and regulations of the policy, according to Sgt. Tim Cunningham of Loyola Campus Safety. Since no policy exists, it’s hard to tell whether campus safety could easily enforce it, he said.

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