March 20, 2013

Poll will examine SIU smoke-free campus options

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University is considering joining hundreds of other colleges and universities around the country in implementing a smoke-free campus policy.

Chancellor Rita Cheng has appointed a broad-based committee that includes representatives from all campus constituencies to examine smoke-free proposals and determine if they are relevant to the University’s goals of creating and maintaining an environment that nurtures healthy lifestyles.

“Students, faculty and staff have expressed a desire to improve the campus environment in order to foster healthy working and living conditions,” Cheng said. “We have a responsibility to adequately research those requests.”

In upcoming weeks, the committee will conduct a poll to explore a number of options.  Among the questions: Should smoking be allowed in public outdoor spaces; should SIU be a 100 percent smoke-free campus; should SIU be a tobacco-free campus; should smoking be allowed only in designated areas; and should smoking be allowed only in parking lots and personal vehicles.

“The committee feels it’s important to gather opinion from SIU students, faculty and staff regarding a change in current campus tobacco policy and offer a cohesive recommendation to the chancellor,” Dr. Ted Grace, committee chair and director of Student Health Programs at SIU, said. “I would urge all to complete the poll, everyone’s voice is important.”

Among the nation’s 825 colleges and universities that have implemented a smoke-free policy are the University of Kentucky, Oklahoma State University, and Indiana University.

“These prestigious centers of higher learning have found a way to create and implement updated, modern tobacco policies,” Cheng said.  “I believe SIU will benefit from an exploration of options in this area.”

Grace believes gauging campus opinion will help the committee determine how to proceed. “Not only does a university promote a healthy mind, it also encourages sound lifestyle choices.  We owe it to the entire campus community to make sure we are doing that to the best of our ability.”