NIU to form smoking policy

By Dina Paluzzi

Smokers might have to curb their habit on campus if a smoking policy, which is being developed, is approved.

Proposed campus smoking policies, which a report found a majority of the faculty and staff members see a need for, presently are being reviewed by the interior facility environment committee.

Pat Hewitt, assistant to the vice president for finance and planning, said 79 percent of NIU’s faculty and staff members favor a smoking policy. She said this number was based on the 1,762 questionnaires returned to the committee.

Questionnaires to more than 3,400 staff and faculty members asked whether NIU should have a smoking policy, if they are smokers and if they had policy suggestions. These questionnaires were submitted by the committee earlier this semester.

An open forum on the smoking proposals will be held Nov. 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Holmes Student Center Room 506. “It’s an opportunity for people to voice their opinions,” Hewitt said. People are allowed to give their views during 10 minute increments.

People can register for a time slot by calling Sharon Horton in the budget and planning office. There is still plenty of room for people to register, Hewitt said. “We’re hoping the open forum will help us to get a better idea (for a policy),” Hewitt said.

Written responses concerning the smoking proposals also can be sent to Hewitt at the budget and planning office. All of the suggestions made at the forum and received in the mail will be considered when deciding on the final proposal, Hewitt said.

ewitt said a proposal should be ready to submit to the president within the next few weeks. She said she would like to have one ready for submission before Thanksgiving, but a more realistic deadline would be the end of the semester.

She said there was a delay in the process because the bi-weekly meetings sometimes were cancelled during the summer. She said it is hard for some faculty members to meet during the summer.

The idea for a smoking policy started last April during an open forum on asbestos conducted by the University Health Service, Hewitt said. She said many people at the meeting expressed concern about smoking so the committee decided to review the possibility of a smoking policy.

Proposals from other schools are being reviewed, Hewitt said, but the policy being considered is the one Illinois State University has implemented.

“It (the policy) is the most recent, and ISU is the most like Northern in composition and size,” Hewitt said. It is also an institution close to NIU, she added.

Charles Morris, ISU vice president for administration services, said, “It’s a non-smoking policy. It’s the non-smokers whose rights are focused on.”

e also said the policy has met with little opposition. “All in all, things have worked quite well,” Morris said.

Under the ISU policy, smoking is prohibited in public areas of the university except in designated areas. Smoking also is prohibited in enclosed areas such as classrooms, halls, elevators, lobbies and washrooms. There are a few exceptions such as the field house and the student center, Morris said. Smoking is allowed in private offices unless the smoke ventilates into other offices or into public hallways.

The Student Association conducted a student survey on smoking during the past month. SA President Jim Fischer said, “Most of the students felt that the university should provide for specific areas where students should smoke.”

e said there also were students who felt smoking should not be permitted and students who felt there should be no policy prohibiting smoking at all. “It reflected a wide range.”

Fischer said each SA senator was given some survey forms and had students fill them out. He said about 100 students were surveyed.