Students, Evanston residents revive effort to make Northwestern’s campus tobacco-free

Tyler Pager, Campus Editor

Students are renewing an effort to make Northwestern’s campus tobacco-free and will present a resolution to ASG next week on the issue.

Associated Student Government previously rejected a proposal for a campus-wide ban in October 2013. However, the resolution’s sponsors say student turnover and Illinois’ new “Smoke Free Campus Act,” which bans smoking on state universities’ campuses, have reenergized the proposal.

The resolution calls for the University to establish a task force by Fall Quarter 2015 to coordinate the adoption of the policy, which the sponsors want implemented by Fall Quarter 2016. The proposal asks for a tobacco-free campus, which differs from a smoke-free policy because it also prohibits electronic cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

“There are more than a million living college students today who will die because of smoking tobacco,” said ASG senator Ross Krasner, one of the resolution’s sponsors. “This is an example where ASG can really help make a difference to help improve student life on campus.”

Krasner, a Medill freshman and a member of ASG’s community relations committee, said there are already 1,043 campuses that are tobacco-free, including some of NU’s peer institutions. Therefore, he said, it doesn’t make sense that NU hasn’t adopted a comparable policy yet.

Faculty Senate passed a smoke-free resolution in Fall 2013, but administrators told faculty they needed to have the support of students and staff to move forward, said physical therapy and human movement sciences Prof. Babette Sanders. The NU Staff Advisory Council, in addition to ASG, was not in favor of the proposal at the time, said Sanders, the former chair of Faculty Senate.

She said the effort is now being supported by Evanston’s health department, which has helped it gain steam.

“As a health professional, it would be contrary to everything I believe in about health and wellness and prevention of illness and injury to think that allowing smoke would be the right thing to do,” Sanders said. “It seems like having a smoke-free campus would be an important step to health of students, staff and faculty.”

Last month, Evanston officials and members of community-based health organizations, ASG and NU faculty met to discuss the adoption of a tobacco-free policy at NU. Kristin Preihs, Evanston’s public health educator, said the city decided to hold a meeting to get all interested parties in one room together. She said about 25 people attended.

Lisa Currie, director of health promotion and wellness, attended the city meeting and said she is excited the proposal has been revived. She said the task force, if formed, will help the University more “thoughtfully” adopt the policy.

“This a serious public health issue,” she said. “By encouraging people to remain smoke free and creating a campus environment that is tobacco-free … it sends a clear message that we support health above else.”

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