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Smoking policies on the UI campus go unnoticed

BY ALYSSA GUZMAN | OCTOBER 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa freshman Jack Freihage doesn’t see the harm in smoking on campus.

“If I want to smoke a cig, and no one else is around, I’m going to smoke a cig,” he said.

Thus far this year, there have been 32 citations issued for smoking on campus.

In 2009, there were 25 citations issued. That number decreased to 12 citations in 2010, and then skyrocketed to 146 in 2011 and 463 citations in 2012.

Since then, the numbers have decreased.

Tom Rocklin, the vice president for Student Services, thinks people get confused on where one may and may not smoke.

People are prohibited from smoking in university buildings, vehicles, and on all university grounds, including athletics and recreational facilities.

University parking lots are also smoke-free, and so are UI streets, most of which are on the Health Science Campus or in the proximity of the East Side dormitories.

The Iowa Legislature banned smoking in many public places, including school campuses on July 1, 2008, with the Smoke-Free Air Act, whose purpose is to reduce the level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Gov. Chet Culver signed the law on April 15, 2008.

“It’s a state law, so obviously, we are bound to follow state law,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

While there is a smoking prohibition on campus, there are still areas in which students, faculty, and Iowa residents are allowed to smoke.

Smoking is allowed on all Iowa City streets that go through campus such as Iowa Avenue, Madison Street, as well as Clinton Street. Those streets border the Main Library, Pentacrest, and East Side residence halls.

So long as smokers are on the sidewalk bordering the streets, they are not breaking the law.

Iowa City streets, including Melrose, Burlington, Highway 6, Grove Street, Riverside Drive, and some areas of Grand Avenue are also permitted smoking areas.

The UI Hospitals and Clinics has been designated a smoke-free area since 2006, and the Health Sciences Campus was designated smoke-free in 2007.

“Primarily, this is a health and safety issue,” Moore said. “We want to do everything possible to enhance the health and safety of everyone on our campus. The hospitals and clinics had established a smoke-free health-care campus quite some time before the law took effect.”

Typically, police officers enforce the policy by responding to a complaint or when an officer witnesses a violation.

“We like to do our best to continue to enforce the policy and educate students,” Rocklin said. “It will always be a little hard to enforce.”

Freihage said he hasn’t seen much enforcement in the policy during his time on campus and said he doesn’t think the policy is very effective.

“I’ve seen the night guards talk to people, but [I haven’t seen] officers [enforce the policy],” he said.

Rocklin said he thinks there’s always more officials can do to enforce the policy, but that they are still “doing a very reasonable job of enforcing [it].”

Despite some enforcement, some are still unaware that a smoking ban exists on campus.

“I don’t follow it probably because I have no idea what the laws are,” UI freshman Ben East said.


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