Chance to smoke in cars should be given

By Rachel Scaman

Students should be given the chance to smoke in their cars when the Smoke-Free Campus Act goes into effect July 1.

The Smoke-Free Campus Act prohibits smoking in indoor and outdoor areas of college campuses in Illinois. The NIU Smoke-Free Campus Task Force, comprised of faculty, staff, students and DeKalb County Health Department members, has been meeting since the fall to find a way to implement the act at NIU before July, according to a Jan. 22 Northern Star article.

The Smoke-Free Campus Task Force is still deciding whether people will be allowed to smoke in their cars while on campus since the law does not prohibit people from doing so, said Paul Palian, NIU spokesman and member of the Smoke-Free Campus task force.

Students should be allowed to smoke in their cars because it will prevent them from going off campus and leaving their cigarette butts in business or residential areas.

During a Jan. 21 Faculty Senate meeting, the task force said it had found allowing smoking in cars to be ineffective. The task force plans to talk to businesses and residents because of the possibility of people leaving campus to smoke and disposing of cigarette butts on lawns and sidewalks, said Derryl Block, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences and chair of the task force, according to the article.

Palian said the task force has looked into how other universities have enforced a smoke-free campus.

From what they’ve seen, “the universities who adopt the policies of students being allowed to smoke in their cars usually end up changing the rule because of various issues they encounter,” Palian said.

Despite this, students should be given the chance to smoke in their cars on campus without punishment. If students abuse the privilege the university can take it away. But, if students aren’t allowed to smoke in their cars, they will start walking off campus and may leave their cigarette butts in front of businesses or in the yards of the homes that surround campus. This will upset the DeKalb community.

Benjamin Donovan, Student Association director of Governmental Affairs and member of the task force, said the task force will conduct a reach-out operation to get community input on the Smoke-Free Campus Act. Donovan said a lot of student feedback to the law has been positive, but he said he was not aware of the type of feedback students have given about the rules proposed by NIU’s task force.

Feedback “has been that they like the [Smoke-Free Campus Act] because it’ll give them a reason to stop smoking,” Donovan said. “Some folks say it’s a personal choice.”

People will find a way around the law and they will smoke on the properties surrounding NIU. Donovan said the task force is assessing the impact the law will have on businesses and residential properties in proximity to NIU.

It should be required that smoking students stay inside their car until their cigarette is put out, and students should have to roll their windows up while smoking.

Students should get the chance to prove they can obey the law, and as a result the community around NIU can be spared from cigarette butts.