Campus-wide smoking ban

Ben Lippert

Ben LippertSenior Reporter

The Students’ Association passed a resolution on Nov. 29 proposing a campus-wide vote on whether or not SDSU’s campus should be entirely smoke-free.

The resolution passed 15-12. Although, a campus-wide vote will be taken, the decision on any real policy ultimately rests with SDSU administration.

Sen. Hassan Ali is a sponsor of the resolution. He said the Students’ Association wanted to leave the decision up to students and faculty because voting is the democratic thing to do.

“Our job is to be the students’ voice,” Ali said. “If the majority wants campus to be smoke-free, it’s our job to give them what they want.”

Ali said critics of the resolution might think that bringing the smoking ban to a campus vote is an easy way out for the Students’ Association. He said they like to bring only the big issues to a school-wide vote.

“This seems like a popular resolution that is going on around the country,” Ali said. “We (the Students’ Association) don’t put everything up to vote.”

Catherine Grandorff, senator for the College of Graduate Studies, does not think the vote will give smokers a fair chance.

“I think it’s a disservice to our smokers on campus by putting their rights up to a vote,” Grandorff said. “It’s an overreach of student government.”

Ali said that the majority of students at SDSU do not smoke. This is an indication of how the vote will turn out.

“[SA] knew it was going to pass if it was left to the students to votes on,” said Ali.

Devanshu Narang, vice president of the International Relations Council, was part of a concerned student panel that spoke out against the proposed campus-wide smoking ban.

“The main complaints are that smokers huddle towards the entrances,” Narang said. “If the rules are enforced correctly, I don’t think there is a need to completely ban smoking.”

Ali said this is a hot topic, and that putting it to a vote will cause a stir amongst students.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to express their opinions or concerns on whether SDSU should be smoke-free,” Ali said. “I think it will create an opportunity for the minority (smokers) to voice their concerns.”

Sen. Logan DeBoer, one the resolution’s sponsors, said he sees second-hand smoke as a health issue.

“I would still be in favor of the campus smoking ban even if the 20-foot rule was properly enforced,” DeBoer said.

“The whole end goal is to get students to quit smoking,” Senator Ali said. “Right now it’s convenient to smoke. If that was taken away people are more likely to quit which will benefit their health in the long run.”

Another issue SA members brought to attention is the issue of litter caused from cigarette butts.

Although SA Sen. Jared Darling saw benefits to having a smoking-ban on campus, he still voted “no” on the resolution.

“Being smoke-free could be a potential draw for students looking at SDSU versus similar schools that already have smoke-free policies.”

Many neighboring colleges to SDSU have already implemented smoke-free policies, including The University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, the University of Minnesota at Crookston and Duluth, and all public and private universities in Iowa.

SA Vice President Erin Kennedy said SA got the idea when they met with different universities at a Board of Regents meeting in October.

One of those schools was Black Hills State University in Spearfish. They began a smoke-free campus policy at the start of the 2010 school year.

Smokers at BHSU can no longer light-up on their commute between classes. The policy pushes smokers to parking lots on the outskirts of campus, making the entire interior of the campus smoke-free.

Ali said SDSU would follow a similar policy if the smoking ban passes.

“This is a public institution, ultimately you can still smoke, you just won’t be able to smoke on campus.”

The current smoking policy at SDSU prohibits smoking in all buildings on campus including a 20-foot perimeter from the entrance to any building.

Libby Cari, a senior sociology major, thinks the current policy is just fine.

“Smokers shouldn’t be right by entrances and exits of buildings,” Cari said. “If the guidelines could be modified to please more non-smokers than that’s fine, but taking it (smoking on campus) away completely seems ridiculous.”

Some students claim they are still subjected to second-hand smoke despite the 20-foot rule.

“My dorm is right by the fire escape,” said Kelsey Lindqueist, a sophomore nursing major. “We leave our window cracked because it gets hot in the dorms and we can always smell when people are outside smoking.”

Tim Goldammer, who is an SA senator at-large and an employee at the Lantern Lounge, said trying to enforce a campus-wide smoking ban would pose the same problems that he encounters working as a bartender.

“How do you stop everyone from lighting up?” said Goldammer. “Should I call the police every time I see someone lighting up? I would say no.”

Several students on campus are unhappy with the current smoking regulations.

“You go to walk outside and get a big whiff of smoke in your face,” said Samantha Gillen, a junior psychology major. “I think it’s silly to have to light up on a 10-minute walk.”

A committee of SA members will revise the proposal, decide how to administer the vote and come up with a plan for implementation.

Students can expect to see the initiative of a campus-wide smoking ban on the Student Government ballot next semester.