Ashtrays need to stay at NIU until start of Smoke-Free Campus Act


About 70 cigarettes and butts were collected Wednesday on the east side of the Campus Life Building. There used to be ashtrays there and by other buildings around campus. They’re starting to disappear, leading to smoking litter.

By Northern Star Editorial Board

The Smoke-Free NIU task force needs to maintain a litter-free campus by keeping ashtrays at NIU until the Smoke-Free Campus act’s July 1 mandate — not before it.

In a January meeting, the task force discussed removing all campus ashtrays in or before June to comply with the act, said Deborah Haliczer, task force member and Employee Relations and Training director. But, no decision was made at that meeting, Haliczer said.

Ashtrays throughout campus began disappearing as early as Feb. 2, leaving people to throw their cigarette butts onto the ground. Ashtrays have disappeared — and in some cases, reappeared — between Reavis and DuSable halls, the east and west sides of the Campus Life Building and the west side of the Holmes Student Center near the buses, among other locations.

On Wednesday, there were 69 cigarette butts littering the lawn where an ashtray used to sit on the east side of the Campus Life Building. The problem will worsen if the task force doesn’t return and then keep the ashtrays until smoking becomes illegal on campus.

Removing ashtrays from campus is unacceptable and should be discussed at the task force’s March 6 meeting. A university that is willing to endure the costs of beautifying its campus by landscaping and updating signs on campus needs to show its community that maintaining the campus’ look is a priority.

Mounds of cigarette butts outside of lecture halls do not show university stakeholders NIU is taking that priority seriously.