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Loyola Implements New Smoke-Free Policy for All Campuses

Zack Miller | The PhoenixLoyola signage across campus informs community members of the new policy change.

Loyola’s most recent policy change bans all forms of smoking on campus starting this fall semester.

With in-person classes coming back to campus, the university released more information on its new smoke-free policy July 16 in a university-wide email. The policy — which went into effect Aug. 1 — bans vaping, tobacco and marijuana use in interior spaces, outdoor property, university-owned or leased vehicles and outdoor facilities.

The policy is enforced on the university’s Lake Shore Campus, Water Tower Campus, John Felice Rome Center, the Loyola Retreat and Ecology Campus as well as the Health Sciences Campus, which already had the policy in place, according to the university. 

In fall 2018, Loyola updated its smoking policy by banning e-cigarettes and vapes in campus buildings and within 15 feet of entrances, The Phoenix reported.

The initiative to ban tobacco use then was researched and promoted by the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC). SGLC conducted extensive research into the negative health and environmental impacts of tobacco use, according to a university email from May.

The work of SGLC led to a university-conducted survey that found 56.8 percent of respondents supported the change, while 24.7 percent opposed and 18.4 percent supported some restrictions, but not all.

“We know there are a variety of student needs and concerns as we return to campus in the Fall of 2021,” Margaret Bronec, the SGLC President, said in an email to the Phoenix. “As the voice of the Undergraduate student body, we are here to listen to student’s feedback and gauge what other students are passionate about. The SGLC has continuously advocated for initiatives focused on public health, education, and awareness, it is our priority to continue that advocacy in the future.”  

With the new policy going into effect a month before the start of the fall semester, the university outlined the consequences for those who violate the policy.

Staff and faculty members will face corrective action, students will be directed to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) and visitors will be handled based on whatever resources the university has available to use. 

The email also referenced a number of resources available to community members who smoke. 

The Wellness Center and Loyola’s Safety Net website were cited as available resources for students and families seeking help, support and tips for alcohol and drug use in the email. Cessation resources through Emerge, the Aetna Tobacco Cessation Journeys program, and the Perspectives Employee Assistance Program were provided in the email for faculty and staff at Loyola.

In the May email, the university referenced the Student Promise, which entails caring for oneself, others and the community, as well as Loyola’s Community Standards, which list standards students are expected to uphold involving topics such as alcohol, gambling, harassment, and drug use.

The university plans to enforce the policy by relying on students and faculty to report any violations they see.  

“While the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution will get involved if needed when it comes to student accountability, the general hope is that this policy will be a community-enforced standard,” Anna Shymanski-Zach, a University Spokesperson, said in an email. 

Community members will be able to report violations through a university hotline by emailing smokefree@LUC.edu, the email said.

SGLC backed the university in their decision to use a hotline system similar to the recent hotline set up to report COVID-19 violations and sexual assaults.

“The SGLC does not currently have any concerns regarding the use of a hotline system for reporting, the university has maintained contact with student, faculty, staff, and administrative representatives throughout the process of implementation,” Bronec, 21, said. 

Some students said they believe the university should be focused on other policy changes, including reform regarding racial justice — a concern students have been voicing over the past year.

“I’ve never heard any students complain about [smoking] in my four years of being here,” Eve Cone, a 21-year-old senior at Loyola studying education, said. “We have action being taken against [smoking] but not against things students really care about.”

In the past year, Loyola students have held anti-racism protests calling for the university to implement more policies advocating for students of color on campus.

“We know there are many issues our students care passionately about, and as a Jesuit, Catholic institution, we welcome and commit to facilitating constructive dialogue and discussion about the important issues of our day,” Shymanski-Zach said. “The new Smoke and Tobacco-Free Policy is just one of several priorities across the University, with our top priority being the health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff as we return to campus this fall.”

The university cited 22 other Jesuit colleges in the U.S. who have welcomed smoke-free policies, in addition to 2,500 other colleges and universities. 

Loyola joins DePaul University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois Chicago in enforcing regulations of smoking products on campus. DePaul University, located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, enforces its smoke-free policy through shared responsibility. If an individual is repeatedly non-compliant they may face disciplinary action, according to DePaul’s Smoking on University Premises policy.

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