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Legislation proposes ban to smoking on campus

May 9, 2013

 

REBECCA ALVAREZ
Associate Managing Editor

 

The Louisiana Senate unanimously approved a bill that would impose a statewide ban on smoking on university and community college campuses as part of the state’s effort to decrease health costs and promote healthy lifestyles. Senate Bill 36 was approved in April and will be voted on sometime during this legislative season.

 

While the bill aims to promote good health, it is also striking a chord with political participation.

 

KING

Jim King, vice president for student affairs, said the health factors of the bill are something the public needs to consider when the time comes to vote on the legislation, but another lesson to consider is the awareness and political participation required of the public.

 

“From an educational prospective, it is better to educate people so that they can make the best decision,” he said. “Education is our most effective tool in making students aware about health when it comes to making these kinds of decisions.”

 

King said he encourages students to take the time to follow the bill and consider all aspects that comprise it to ensure a decision is made by the people it would affect.

 

Smoking on campus is not something that is uncommon. Many students, like junior nursing major Creed Walters, can be found in social-smoking circles throughout the day in Centennial Plaza.

 

Walters said he is aware there are health risks to smoking, but he believes there is no harm in smoking outside, and being around smokers is a personal choice just as smoking is.

 

“I can understand they don’t want smokers smoking around people who don’t smoke, but unless you surround yourself with it, you’re not going to get hurt,” he said. “It’s not like smoking is going on in confined areas, and there are state laws against that already.”

 

The campus smoking policy prohibits smoking and use of smokeless tobacco products in all university buildings, including residence halls. The policy also prohibits smoking 25 feet away from entrances to buildings. Both provisions of the policy also state its enforcement is the responsibility of all members of the Tech community.

 

Combined with state laws that prohibit smoking indoors, Walters said he believes there is enough control over smoking and promoting public health.

 

“If you smoke, you already know what it can do to you,” he said. “It’s a problem to an extent, but it is still personal choice.”

 

The only advantage the bill could provide, Walters said, is to resolve the issue of littering with cigarette butts.

 

“The only thing I dislike about smoking is the trash,” he said.

 

Jake Dicks, a sophomore wildlife and forestry major, said he agreed littering is the worst thing about smoking, and smoking should be a choice.

 

“I don’t smoke, but I don’t think a law is going to solve anything,” he said. “You’ll just have a wall of smokers on the very edge of campus — that’ll be the real problem.”

 

While the smoking ban has gained plenty of support in the Senate, the final provisions of the bill have yet to be established.

 

If the bill is signed into law, King said Tech will likely take an educational approach to enforcing the law for a short period.

 

King said the bill could still have the same effect, but may have other details that will be added as the process continues.

 

“We’ll just have to wait and see how the bill ends up,” he said. “The biggest lesson here is to be educated because this is a law that will affect all of us.”

 

Email comments to rha014@latech.edu


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