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Smoking war continues

BY SAMANTHA HONKEN | AUGUST 21, 2009 7:07 AM

Smokers across campus are still adjusting to the smoke-free rules set in place last year, especially after UI police began issuing tickets for violating the policy last month.

Police gave their first tickets on July 14 to two people smoking outside Rienow Residence Hall.

Authorities have since issued 12 more tickets, said Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police.

Police said all the violators have been on the West Campus, he said, mainly near the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

“We will always have problem areas,” Green said.

Hospital ramp 2 — directly connected to the hospital via a skywalk — has traditionally been a place where smokers go during breaks.

Betty Ankney and friend Julie Mulherin, both hospital custodians, were smoking in a legal area near ramp 2 during a break on Wednesday afternoon. Neither of the women have been ticketed since the ban went into effect in July 2008, nor do they know anyone who has.

Clad in blue scrubs, the two said they are careful about where they choose to light up. That means making sure they stay away from the UI-owned area, which is clearly marked with at least half a dozen “no smoking” signs.

Though hospital faculty have voiced opposition to smokers’ presence near the UIHC, Ankney said, she will continue to do what is legal: smoke in the city-owned areas.

“If [the faculty] leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone,” she said. “They don’t pay my medical bills.”

Both women said they see plenty of opportunities for nonsmokers to avoid the smoking areas.

Along with issuing fines, police will continue to issue warnings, Green said. Other preventive measures, namely more signs, are visible around the campus as well, allowing those new to the UI to adjust.

“We’re being especially lenient during move-in week,” Green said.

It takes time for everyone to get used to the laws and regulations of an area, he said, and he is confident the warning system and signs will remind smokers to remain in designated areas.

Tom Moore, a spokesman for the UI Hospitals and Clinics, said he has personally seen a significant decrease in the number of people smoking on or near the hospital campus.

“As a health organization, obviously the No. 1 concern we have is for the health and well-being of all our workers,” Moore said.


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