UI expands smoking ban

BY CINDY GARCIA | APRIL 08, 2015 5:00 AM

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Tobacco users on campus now face further restrictions.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced Tuesday changes to the smoke-free campus policy.

The UI campus is slated to completely prohibit all tobacco products on campus beginning Aug. 24. The ban includes electronic cigarettes, chewing or smokeless tobacco, snuff, pipes, hookahs, bidis, and kreteks.

Under the current policy, only cigarette and cigar smoking is prohibited on campus, and punishment is given through citations.

“The objective of the policy is to support a healthy campus culture and to promote the health and well-being of all campus community members,” Mason wrote in an email. “The tobacco-free policy underscores our commitment to those goals.”

According to yearly statistics, the UI police issued 56 citations in 2014 under the smoking ban. In 2012, they gave out 463 citations.

Mason cited cumulative research proving the health risks associated with all tobacco use, which isn’t exclusive to cigarettes.

She made it clear that the new policy didn’t come lightly, saying that regional and national trends all contributed to making the decision to completely ban tobacco on campus.

“For the next five months, an implementation team will address all issues associated with adopting the new policy,” she wrote. “That team will work hard to communicate with current and prospective students, faculty, and staff, as well as patients and visitors to the UI campus.”

Many students aren’t convinced the change will have results.

Some relayed their experiences with noncompliance with the current smoke-free policy and said they were not completely informed about all of its guidelines.

Rumbidzai Majee, a UI freshman nonsmoker, did not think the new tobacco-free policy would actually work.

“Currently, people smoke casually around campus anyway,” she said. “There will always be a person standing outside a university building exposing others to secondhand smoke.”

She said the current rules aren’t followed.

“Given the rule about not smoking around university buildings, I’d say no. Not at all,” she said. “I’ve seen faculty leisurely standing besides building or walking to their office smoking. If the faculty can’t follow the system, there is no reason the students will.”

UI freshman smoker Zheng Liang also wondered about the inconveniences posed by the current police on faculty on campus.

“Some people work, and they may want to smoke,” he said. “If they work at the library, for example, they’ll need to walk far to be able to.”

Liang said he has never received a citation. However, he said that when he was a resident at Rienow Hall last semester, he was warned by police officers to take his cigarette to the back of the building or to put it out.

Liang still remained positive about the new policy coming to the UI campus in August.

“If you wanted to set this rule in China, no one would follow it,” he said. “But here, I think students will.”

UI freshman Jolly Pan said she knows about the smoke-free campus policy, but that she sees lots of people smoking on campus. Citing her caution about smoking in front of people, she said she has never received a citation.

“I think many people smoke on campus. I don’t think it’s going to work because people are going to find a place to smoke anyway,” Pan said.

Brandon Gillentine, a UI senior who doesn’t smoke, has the same pessimistic belief as others. He said the new policy wouldn’t work, and he sees people smoking on campus under the current policy.

“All my friends dip, and I see people doing it all the time in the dorms,” he said.

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