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Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

The recent decision to ban smoking on campus at the University of Mississippi has been met with criticism from staff and students alike. The criticism is coming to a head today at 1 p.m. in the Grove when a group, led by two school students, will protest the ban. Chase Bradstreet and Kyle Jones are third-year law students and casual smokers. The duo started a Facebook group called “Smoke Up The Grove” which invites anyone interested to smoke cigars or cigarettes during the protest. The smoking ban will not be fully enforced until Jan. 1, 2013. Until then, the University Police Department will hand out warning cards to those seen smoking on campus. Bradstreet and Jones confirmed that extra trash receptacles and some water will be provided at the protest. The protest was originally scheduled to be Aug. 31, but Hurricane Isaac forced the protest to be moved back one week. Bradstreet and Jones expect approximately 100 students to be present at the protest and said faculty and staff involvement is highly encouraged. According to Bradstreet and Jones, the protest is specifically aimed at the zero-tolerance smoking ban on campus. The ban is a change from the previous policy which designated smoking areas throughout campus. Both Bradstreet and Jones feel that the previous policy was sufficient but neither well-enforced nor publicized by the university, and they are not alone in this thought. Jeanette Wells, Kathleen Henry and Deborah Smith, university employees who work in Martindale, also voiced their displeasure with the way the previous policy was enforced and publicized. Smith said the university did not make people aware of the location of designated smoking areas. “Nobody knew where they were,” Smith said. “They know now that the whole campus is smoke free.” Bradstreet and Jones said they would be happy to return to the previous smoking policy, and Jones said the problem with the policy was that it wasn’t properly enforced. “It’s not going to be respected if you’re not going to enforce it,” Jones said. Wells and Henry showed strong support in the student organized protest and indicated that they plan to participate should their schedules allow. Bradstreet and Jones are also in agreement that the protest will be a good thing regardless of the university’s reaction. More scheduled protests will depend on the university’s reaction and the student turnout. Melissa Loria, a neuroscience graduate student, who is in the process of quitting smoking, is a strong advocate for bringing back the old policy and will be attending the protest despite being a non-smoker. “We’re not expecting a good reaction from (the university), but if we get it we’ll be very pleased,” Loria said.