Smokers used to stepping outside of University buildings to have a cigarette may have to go off-campus after Student Government passed a smoke-free campus resolution Tuesday.
The resolution calls for a seven-year process that would make UT a tobacco-free campus, create a University-wide task force to decide policy implementation and extend the free University Health Services smoking cessation program, “Quitters,” to include faculty and staff.
The resolution will make the campus “generally” smoke-free so UT can become a healthier, more environmentally friendly campus, said SG Administrative Director Nathan Bunch.
“It would allow permits for special events, such as football games, and in certain areas, but campus will be generally smoke-free,” Bunch said. “For instance we are technically a dry campus, but people are permitted to drink at football games and tailgates, and we have the Cactus Cafe.”
Bunch said SG’s initial approach was to find specific areas to make smoke free, but their research showed prohibition of smoking would be more feasible. Because students, faculty and staff do not adhere to current smoking regulations, strengthening the regulations would be pointless, he said.
”In no way are we trying to demonize smokers,” he said. “But how does the ability to walk wherever you want and smoke weigh against a clean campus?”
According to a study conducted by no-smoke.org, over 400 other U.S. higher education institutions implemented or are in the process of implementing similar smoke-free campus policies. Among them are UT peer institutions Indiana University at Bloomington, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UT would be the largest smoke-free campus in the U.S.
“I hate smoking and I think it’s a nasty habit, but an all-out ban is inappropriate,” said government sophomore Huey Fischer, a non-smoker.
“Smokers are people too, and they have that right. Plus, I believe I inhale more carcinogens from the Forty Acres bus than from secondhand smoke.”
SG representative John Lawler said he opposed amending the resolution to specify that it would “generally” ban smoking.
“As someone who’s grandparents died of emphysema and has a father dealing with the plagues of secondhand smoking, I believe it should be 100 percent smoke-free,” he said. “Reducing this resolution to specify ‘generally’ smoke-free will only water it down and weaken it.”