Following the growing trend of smoking bans, Minnesota State is in the initial planning phases of instituting a smoking ban of its own.
MSU President Richard Davenport proposed a smoking ban during his Convocation address in late August, though details on the ban are limited.
“A campus-wide smoking ban may or may not be the recommendation of the task force, and I can’t predict what details the task force will suggest about implementation of any new policies,” Davenport said in an e-mail.
The proposal comes after many complaints about violations of the new policy, which went into effect last year, Davenport said.
Currently, smoking is prohibited in all university buildings – except for one room in the Cenntennial Student Union – as well as in Blakeslee Stadium, on outdoor seating, most pedestrian areas and in university owned or leased vehicles. Smoking is also prohibited within 15 feet of 25 entrances to on-campus buildings.
Davenport added that possible start dates for the ban could be July 2008 or the start of the 2008-09 academic year.
“The group could recommend a new policy that would include a smoking ban,” said Davenport. “But a ban is not a foregone conclusion. As with any policy revision, the campus community will have the opportunity to participate in the discussions.”
Although a 2005 survey said half of MSU faculty, staff and students said smoking should be banned on campus, some are still skeptical about the idea to make the campus entirely smoke free.
Meaghan Rosenau, a smoker, is a sophomore who transferred here after a year at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
“I think it would suck because there is a lot of smokers on campus,” said Rosenau. She also said she thinks people would ignore the new rules and probably continue to smoke.
Aaron Cooney is a junior who also smokes.
“As a smoker, I’d rather it not happen,” Cooney said.
Added senior Amanda Wilcox, “I think it’s kind of ridiculous.”
Wilcox said even as a non-smoker, she was never bothered by walking through smoke-filled door entries.
“I thought making the entryways smoke-free was where it would stop, but I guess not,” Wilcox said.
“We have received a lot of complaints about violations of the new policy, as well as concerns about whether it can be enforced,” said Davenport. “Some people still smoke next to buildings, and the secondhand smoke is being inhaled by people inside and outside of those buildings.”
University-wide smoking bans are becoming more frequent in Minnesota. Minnesota State University, Moorhead, approved a ban May 8, and UMD implemented a smoking ban on all university property Sept. 1. The radius for the smoking ban includes all indoor and outdoor facilities, as well as in all university vehicles.
Smoking in the dorms at the Duluth campus will be allowed until May 19. The recommendation of a smoking ban came from the UMD Student Health Advisory Committee and the UMD Campus Safety, Health and Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee.
Duluth will also offer classes to assist those who are interested in quitting smoking in order to help ease the transition.
“As we have done for several years,” said Davenport, “we will continue to encourage smokers to enroll in a smoking cessation class through Student Health Services. The study group and Wellness Committee may have recommendations for additional help.”
If the ban is approved, smokers won’t be the only ones changing their routine: the $26,000 machine, dubbed the “butt sucker” may have to find another job.
Matt Johnston is a Reporter staff writer and Bronson Pettitt is the Reporter Editor in Chief