A high volume of smokers on campus has caused a concerned student to take a proposal before the Faculty Senate that would hopefully change some rules concerning cigarettes on campus.
Chase law student Joe Mills is that student. He has asked stakeholder groups like Faculty Senate, Staff Congress and Student Government to investigate the current policy and make recommendations to the president’s office.
“The first is the obvious health risk that secondhand smoke creates. Everyone has a right to come to NKU and not have to inhale toxic cigarette smoke,” Mills said via e-mail. “Currently, you would be hard-pressed to not breathe smoke if you frequent the campus. The second reason is the cigarette waste that is on campus. Take a look around entrances to buildings and walkways such as the University plaza; there is tobacco related litter all over,” Mills said.
“It is my hope that a more restrictive policy will be created, but it will not be up to me,” Mills said.
So far, Mills’ crusade has had some success. His request was approved to be sent on to the office of the president.
Mills, who spent his undergraduate years at NKU, said he is heading this issue for two major reasons.
Moving toward smoking restrictions will help curb the problem of Kentucky being one of the least healthy states, Mills said in the same e-mail.
“The hazards of smoking (even outdoors) on campus are obvious and affect all those that come here. However, in addition to causing direct hazards, smoking contributes to institutional costs in other ways, including fire damage, cleaning and maintenance costs and costs associated with employee absenteeism, health care and medical insurance,” Mills said in a memo to the senate. “All of these costs can directly increase the price of tuition at NKU and eat up already scarce resources.”
In the memo, Mills also attributed other costs to the current smoking policy.
“Building maintenance and fire prevention costs are also directly attributable to smoking. Residue left from their pollution can stain buildings and damage air filtration devices, all at the school’s expense,” Mills said.
Along with preventative maintenance, cleaning up the litter costs NKU a huge number of man-hours to keep the campus free of cigarette butts and packages.
“I challenge you to walk anywhere on our campus and not find cigarette waste prevalent around buildings and walkways. With a new student union, arena and lake improvement project in the works, efforts must be made to protect the university’s assets,” Mills said.
Although he wants to change the current smoking policy, Mills isn’t looking for a fight.
“Rest easy, it is not my hope to abolish smoking on NKU’s campus, only restrict it. Smokers have a right to smoke, but nonsmokers have an equal right to not be forced to breathe it. I’m just looking for some kind of middle ground,” Mills said.