New smoking regulations put into place at Augie

Isabella Perez

New smoking and vaping regulation notifications went out to campus on Wednesday, Oct. 30. These regulations will require smokers to be at least 15 feet from doors of campus buildings. It will also prohibit smoking and vaping in certain outdoor areas. 
 
Kai Swanson, special assistant to President Bahls, sent a campus email stating that these new regulations have been put in place in accordance with Illinois law and with respect to the health of others.
 
Coming to campus as a public health faculty member, [the new changes were] surprising because I had not been around smoking for a couple years,” Dr. Lena Hann, assistant professor of public health, said. 
 
“My main concern was that students, faculty and staff had to go through other people’s smoke to get to class,” Hann said. “Our campus is so small that it’s really hard to avoid other people’s smoke from trying to get from place to place.”
 
Senior Samantha Wright said in an email that she uses tobacco products but is not opposed to the new policies. She was surprised that these new rules were not already in place.
 
I think the rules are fair and help to protect non-smokers from getting cigarette smoke or vape smoke in their faces,” Wright said in an email.
 
But it was students in the public health program that pushed for these new regulations. “Initially, they proposed Augustana go smoke-free,” Swanson said. 
 
Back in 2015, the Quad-City Times wrote about the Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act, stating, “the law prohibits smoking, as well as the use of smokeless tobacco, on the campuses of all state-supported colleges and universities.”
 
In my opinion, the rules aren’t meant to inhibit people from smoking. They’re to protect nonsmokers,” Wright said in an email. 
 
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 report, “at least 2,082 U.S. college and university campuses had smoke-free policies.” But because it is a private college, Augustana does not need to adhere to these changes.
 
However, smoking is not illegal, so handling the practice on campus is somewhat of a grey area. 
 
“I would hesitate to say what’s best,” Swanson said. “The current policy we have is an attempt at a compromise. Like I said earlier, those other institutions that have tried a ban had unintended consequences as a result.” 
 
As of now, Swanson said he hasn’t received any negative feedback from students about the new regulations.
 
I am happy the campus finally got containers around the quad for people to put cigarette butts in to help out the environment,” Wright said in an email. 
 
Hann said that she supports the measures that have been taken but would like to see more change happen. 
 
“While it’s a positive step, it should not be a last step,” Hann said. “As it gets colder, I see students and faculty [who smoke] move closer to the door. This continues to put our students with allergies and asthma at a disadvantage
 
“Everyone should have a right to clean, smoke-free air,” Hann said.