DeKalb Postpones smoking ban discussion

By Jackie Nevarez

City Council postponed an ordinance that would prohibit smoking on streets and sidewalks touching NIU in support of the Smoke-Free Campus Act.

The Smoke-Free Campus Act, which has been in effect since July 1, does not allow smoking in indoor and outdoor areas of Illinois college campuses, including a person’s parked car on campus. The policy applies to students, employees and visitors, and includes any form of tobacco use — from smoking to chewing.

The ordinance, which was up for a first reading Monday, called for amending the “Smoking Regulation” section of the DeKalb Municipal Code to prohibit smoking on streets and sidewalks that touch NIU property to further implement the Smoke-Free Campus Act. Every university town and city impacted by the act is working on an ordinance similar to this one to prevent smokers from gathering on streets, according to Monday’s City Council meeting agenda.

First ward Alderman David Jacobson said the ordinance would not allow homeowners on the streets touching or traversing NIU property to smoke on the sidewalks in front of their homes. Jacobson said the act is already unenforceable, citing how he smoked on campus this past weekend and was not cited.

“To create a prohibition on a legal activity on a campus is silliness, and it’s going to create a major enforcement issue that they’re going to have to contemplate,” Jacobson said. “For us to get involved in the silliness is also that much silliness.”

NIU Police Cmdr. Don Rodman said the goal of enforcement for the law would be to bring students to the Student Conduct Board and employees to Human Resources to have an education discussion.

Jennifer Groce, director of Community Relations, said there was a concern with smokers walking across the street from the campus and becoming a nuisance to residents.

“Our campus has received numerous complaints already from residents, … but several especially on Garden Road and businesses on Normal Road, crossing Annie Glidden [Road] to be able to do this,” Groce said.