Currently on Northern Kentucky University’s campus, people can smoke almost anywhere outside. However, this April, a new proposal may ban smoking on campus, with the exception of six designated smoking areas.
Sept. 18, Joe Mills, a second-year Salmon P. Chase Law student, NKU graduate and member of the committee, presented the proposal to the Student Government Association.
The NKU Clean Air Act of 2006 has been a work in progress by the Smoking Task Force Committee for the past six months. Kim Luse, executive assistant to the president, chaired the committee. The committee consisted of faculty, staff, workers from the physical plant, and members appointed by the president’s office.
The current smoking policy on NKU’s campus was implemented in 1993, and the Smoking Task Force Committee saw it as outdated.
The new policy calls for campus to be designated as non-smoking within all highly populated pedestrian areas, such as the Loch Norse area, Norse Commons and University Plaza. It also prohibits smoking on all ramps and bridges leading to facility entrances and within 30 feet of all university buildings and residential facilities. Mills said since NKU’s campus is compact and the walkways are tight, smoking had to be restricted in areas highly populated by student traffic.
Out of the six designated smoking areas in the proposal, four provide shelter for smokers. These designated smoking areas include the south entrance of the first floor of Landrum Academic Center, the north entrance to the Applied Science and Technology Building, the east entrance to the University Center on the ground floor, near the sun dial in the University Plaza, the Dorothy Westermann Herman Science Center plaza and the south side of the Albright Health Center. Mills explained the designated smoking areas as a compromise between people who wanted a complete ban of smoking and those who wanted to continue with the current policy on campus.
“We want to provide people places to enter and to walk on campus that are completely smoke free,” Mills said, “but we also want it to be respectful to those that are smokers and provide areas that are close to buildings and would shelter them from the rain, that they could go.”
The proposal prohibits any tobacco sales on campus and student organizations from distributing free tobacco products or accepting money or gifts from tobacco companies.
In order to implement the policy, the proposal asks for money to place the appropriate signage in both the areas for smoking and those where it is prohibited and ashtrays at the designated smoking areas.
“I know people smoke on the way to and from class,” said Elizabeth Menning, a non-smoking post baccalaureate student at NKU, “and as a person with allergies, I don’t like to walk behind a smoker. I would be in favor of restricting it, but limiting it to six places doesn’t sound feasible.”
If the policy goes into effect, it leaves many questions about enforcement. The proposal leaves enforcement up to “deans, directors, department heads, supervisors and administrators.” They are also to encourage compliance and monitor the appropriate signage. Any violation will be considered a violation of student code and will be dealt with appropriately.
“I think we pay a lot of money to go to school here,” said Stephanie Capito, a freshman accounting major. “We should be able to smoke in the designated areas we already have.”
If SGA approves the proposal, it will move on to staff congress and faculty senate, and then on to the Board of Regents by early November. If all members vote yes, the proposal will become enacted in five months.
“We aren’t in the business of getting people in trouble,” Mills said. “We do want to encourage a more healthy environment.”