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ASB considers amending campus smoking laws

Members of the Associated Student Body cabinet have begun the discussion of amending the university’s smoking laws.
There are 38 designated smoking areas around campus, which are enforced by the University Police Department, to help protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. These areas first came about in 2007.
However, these designated areas are not always used appropriately. Over the past two and half years, UPD has given out approximately 250 tobacco citations.
The university’s tobacco policy, created in 2009, allows UPD to give out citations that come attached with a $25 fine.
ASB President Taylor McGraw helped write part of the legislation passed by the ASB Senate to remove the designated smoking area by the Union Catalpa tree.
“My cabinet is also very much behind this action,” McGraw said. “I’ve spoken to members of the administration about the issue and hope it is resolved soon.”
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tobaccofreekids.org claims that tobacco kills more than 400,000 people a year and costs the U.S. more than $96 billion in health care.
Secondhand smoke is also an issue that has concerned non-smokers. Every year, the U.S. spends roughly $4.98 billion on people with secondhand smoke exposure.
Although some people may not think twice about being exposed to it, approximately 50,000 non-smoking adults die from secondhand smoke annually.
“I think smoking is a horrible thing; I think it is poisonous,” said Michael Jaques, a junior classics and history major. “Emphatically it kills you, but it is a personal decision that everyone gets to make.”
Some universities in the SEC, including the Universities of Florida, Arkansas and Kentucky, have recently become completely tobacco-free campuses.
At Louisiana State University, smoking has not been completely banned. However, LSU does have a strict prohibition on smoking in Tiger Stadium or in any entrance of a building on campus.
While smokers are not allowed to stand directly in front of a building’s entrance, they are still concerned with the smoke entering through the doors when they are open.
This can expose students, faculty and employees who work on the ground floor of the building to secondhand smoke for several hours a day.
“I don’t think people who choose to smoke should be made to feel like criminals and have to go to the ends of campus to have a cigarette,” Jaques said. “They are here to study just like everybody else.”
The University of Alabama is making its way toward becoming a healthier smoke-free campus, with a policy that discourages smoking within 30 feet of any building on campus.
Even though these schools have not banned on-campus smoking entirely, many SEC schools are working toward healthier environments for students and faculty.
“I am not against (smoking) because everyone has their freedom to do it, but it bothers me sometimes when the smell gets stuck on my clothes or the smoke goes right into my face when I am walking to class,” Camila Pareja, a junior theater major, said.
According to the American Lung Association website, there are 250 colleges and universities in the U.S. that prohibit smoking anywhere on campus.
There are many mixed feelings on this discussion, and the members of the ASB are still in the process of making a final decision.
“I know some other SEC schools have gone completely tobacco free,” McGraw said.
“I’ve reached out to the student body president at Arkansas, where they have been smoke-free for a year, just to see how it was working.
He said it has been pretty effective but that enforcement remains difficult. When the Senate convenes in September, I’ll be interested to see if they take up this issue.”