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Letter to the Editor: The smoking ban initiative includes student body's' input

BY SIMONE HIMBEAULT TAYLOR

Published April 12, 2010

To the Daily:

I’d like to address two important aspects of the Smoke-Free University Initiative.

The first is student involvement. Since the initiative was announced one year ago, more than 1,500 students have told us what they think of this effort. Many support the plan to take all three University campuses smoke-free by July 1, 2011. Others have expressed concern about knowing the boundaries of campus or how the University will enforce the smoking ban.

This student feedback has been invaluable to the Student Life Subcommittee (of which I am chair), which is charged with exploring how the smoke-free effort will affect students. The group is now in the process of formulating its recommendations for policy implementation. These recommendations will be reviewed by students to gather diverse feedback and perspectives.

Our 24-member subcommittee includes 12 students. Most of those students are connected to other students through the organizations they represent and reflect the varied opinions on the initiative. Additionally, the subcommittee has used focus groups and surveys to gather additional feedback from students. Our group is committed to making recommendations that are grounded in solid evidence, best practices and diverse student input and respect for the whole community.

The second aspect is historical. It’s important to remember that the decision to create a smoke-free campus is another step along a path of similar decisions made at this university dating back to the mid-1980s.

The University first adopted a ban on smoking in buildings (with exceptions for some residence halls) and University vehicles in 1987. In 1998, the University Health System prohibited smoking on its grounds and in public spaces. Then in 2003, the Residence Halls Association, a student-representative organization, eliminated smoking from all residence halls. Through these initiatives, students, faculty and staff have asked for smoking to be eliminated from more areas of the campus. This, too, is an important form of input.

The University of Iowa and Indiana University implemented smoke-free campus initiatives on Jan. 1, 2008. Even campuses in states with substantial tobacco production, like the University of Kentucky, have enacted similar policies.

I am completely confident we will have the best-possible plan in place for this campus by July 1, 2011. It will be an implementation plan reflecting some of the best work of students, faculty and staff from across the entire University.

Simone Himbeault Taylor
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs