GVSU should consider campus smoking ban

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 4/1/18 11:59pm

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At its general assembly Thursday, March 29, Grand Valley State University’s student senate considered whether or not to support a smoking-ban proposal presented by representatives of different GVSU departments.

While student senate voted against supporting the proposal (president Jonathan Bowman cited a lack of time to consider it and gauge student-body reactions as a reason), the senators have expressed interest in working with administrators to adjust and improve the proposal down the line.

A smoking ban (at least on cigarettes, not necessarily e-cigarettes and vaporizers) is definitely something GVSU should consider implementing. Currently, GVSU is only one of two four-year institutions in Michigan (Ferris State University is the other) that don't have such a rule.

It’s 2018, and we know just how harmful breathing in secondhand smoke is. For the sake of the general campus community’s health, GVSU should consider such a ban.

One of the compromises listed in the proposal presented to student senate was a designated smoking area to confine the activity to one specific section of campus. This would be a good way to appease individuals who are concerned about their personal liberties being encroached upon, at least temporarily, but GVSU should seriously consider making such an area secluded and eventually easing the university into a policy banning cigarette smoking entirely.

One issue with the proposal presented at student senate, however, is that it included a ban on e-cigs and vapes. While neither of these smoking options are healthy, they are still less harmful than cigarettes and are actually used by some individuals to quit smoking cigarettes. In addition, the secondhand "smoke" from e-cigs and vapes is far less obnoxious for everyone else who has to breathe it in. For the time being, at least, it would make sense to leave e-cigs and vapes out of a smoking-ban policy.

Of course, it is rarely a good idea for university administrations to make sweeping, campus-wide policies without gathering input from the campus community. Kudos to Amy Campbell, associate director of Campus Recreation, and Lindsey DesArmo, Health and Wellness manager for Human Resources, for presenting the proposal to student senate, and kudos to student senate for not blindly throwing its support behind the proposal without getting sufficient feedback from the campus community first. While it may be easy for the Lanthorn to say, "Yes, smoking should be banned on campus, if only because it will improve the overall health of campus," affected community members should be able to weigh in on the issue.

Given majority support on this proposal, though, implementing a campus-wide smoking ban would simply be in keeping with GVSU's other health-related initiatives (becoming a bicycle-friendly university, certifying departments that meet certain health critiera, etc.).  And assuming that the university offers resources to help individuals quit smoking, per the proposal presented to student senate, they won't be leaving students who light up completey in the lurch.

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