Administration aims to snuff out tobacco

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With the start of each new year come the customary resolutions for better habits and healthier lifestyles. Next semester, however, some of the SLU community might find itself with a new obligatory health resolution, as SLU administrators have proposed a tobacco-free policy.

On Oct. 27, the senior leadership for the SLU College for Public Health and Social Justice brought forth a draft proposal for turning SLU into a tobacco-free campus.

Dean of the College for Public Health and Social Justice Edwin Trevathan spearheaded the proposal and spoke with SLU’s Student Government Association at their meeting on Wednesday about the proposal. “We believe that it’s time for SLU to fall in line and do the right thing,” said Trevathan on the policy proposal.

Trevathan spoke on the many health benefits of tobacco-free policies and on the hundreds of other universities who have already adopted such a policy for their own campuses, including St. Louis’s Washington University.

Senators expressed concerns after the meeting concerning policy effectiveness and safety.

“My dad worked at Wash. U. when they passed their proposal and said that it actually made [the problem] worse,” stated junior SGA Commuter Senator Corey Walters. “It doesn’t fix the problem, it just pushes it into the public spaces.”

Senior senator for the College of Arts and Sciences Tim Keogh similarly expressed apprehension over the idea and the problems that it could implicate, saying that safety would be a big concern with the policy. Should the policy be approved, persons who wished to use tobacco products would have to be at least 25 feet from SLU property before doing so. This poses security issues, especially for those who would need to leave campus at any time in the evening.

“A common concern with these policies is that they will backfire, and disproportionally affect students,” said Walters. He pointed out that while a majority of the SLU faculty and staff community leave campus at the end of the day, many students do not have this same relief from campus and would be subject to the policy at all times.

The SLU Tobacco-Free Policy draft defines tobacco as including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, spit tobacco, electronic cigarettes and various other products. Potential disciplinary actions for violations were mentioned. An implementation date of Jan. 1, 2014 was also in the original draft proposal.

Some students doubt the success of the policy and see it being met with a lot of opposition in the future.

Senior Kevin Guszkowski made the point that there is currently a rule requiring smokers to be a certain distance from entryways, but students often ignore the rule. Other students mirrored this general sense of opposition.

Rime Sbai, a study abroad student from the SLU-Madrid campus touched on the issue that smoking can sometimes be a large part of international students’ lifestyles, which in turn could affect the international student population.

The proposal, having been discussed with the Faculty Senate and SGA, will next be presented to the Staff Advisory Committee. A final policy proposal will then be established and submitted to all three groups with a request for support. Should it gain support, the policy will be proposed to the President’s Coordinating Committee for adoption.

“SLU is a highly reputable university and should do all that it can to keep such a high-esteem by others,” said Mykelya Holmes, vice president of Smoke-Free SLU. “That should include the promotion and upkeep of healthy lifestyles.”