Smoking ban to take effect in June 2014

By Jessica Schurmann

Lumen Assistant Editor

Smokers will have to leave campus to light up when Viterbo’s new smoking ban goes into place beginning June 30, 2014.

Senior nursing major Renee Fuller is one student who couldn’t be happier about the ban.

“Breathing in too much of that smoke gives me a headache and makes me nauseous,” Fuller told Lumen. Fuller lived in the Treacy apartments on Market street two years ago, when the front of the Student Union was still a designated smoking area. She walked past the area every day on her route to and from classes.

“I always held my breath,” she said. Now she still runs into smoke on campus, because as one of many students who live in Rose, McDonald or Clare apartments, one of the current smoking areas is en-route to the cafeteria. “I don’t like it when the smoking areas are in places that half of the students living on campus probably walk past,” Fuller said.

Not everyone on campus agrees with the change, however.

“I think it’s unfair. Smoking is not illegal,” Viterbo security guard Jay Van Slate told Lumen. “Some people are going to be upset because they feel their rights are being taken away.”

When the policy is put into place, smoking areas will be removed and smoking will be prohibited campus-wide, according to Viterbo’s Smoking and Tobacco Policy.

“Our goal is to maintain the safety and well-being of the students,” director of Health Services and Viterbo’s school nurse Sue Danielson told Lumen.

Danielson is part of the Viterbo Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs task force (ATOD), a health-conscious organization that has been working with Viterbo’s Student Government Association (SGA) to create the new policy, which was initiated last year.

“We’ve talked about smoking for a long time,” Danielson said, regarding ATOD. “The goal initially was to just do designated areas, to get the second-hand smoke out of the way.”

A survey was conducted last year by SGA and the “results showed that an increasing number of students preferred a smoke-free campus,” said Diane Brimmer, vice president for Student Development, in an email. “Some survey respondents cited allergies to smoke.”

Under the current Smoking and Tobacco policy, Viterbo allows three designated smoking areas: near the Recital Hall entrance to the Fine Arts Center, the exterior stairwell located on the southwest side of the Student Union and the east side of the V-Hawk Outdoor Athletics Complex parking lot on Highway 16.

Previously, the smoking areas were situated at the front of the Student Union and in the area between the Fine Arts Center and the Nursing Center. The switch to the current locations became effective in July 2012.

“I know many students who smoke who were upset,” Van Slate said, referring to the new locations. “Before the students were in a more social atmosphere, whereas now they are in the corner…a little more segregated.”

Maggy Miller, senior art education major from Sun Prairie, Wis. is a smoker who is in favor of the ban.

“It seems as if they are trying to hide the smokers. If Viterbo brings people in, they don’t want others to see people smoking,” said Miller, “However, I personally would like to quit so that I can have a good influence on the kids I teach. I think that it’s good that they are getting rid of the smoking areas because it would be a good incentive for me to quit,” Miller said.

Van Slate forsees another problem with the upcoming ban. In the past, campus security has had trouble with students smoking in their rooms and with people smoking outside of the designated areas, he said.

“I think we will see more infractions because of this ban with people walking through campus smoking,” Van Slate said, as well as “more problems with people smoking in their rooms.”

When the ban is put in place, “they’ll be standing on the streets smoking at night.”

Van Slate explained that campus security only patrols Viterbo property, and will not be able to protect the students who are smoking in other areas. “I think it’s just safer for everyone if they use the spots on campus,” he said. “People who are going to smoke are going to smoke.”

UW-La Crosse permits smoking within 25 feet of any entrance to the campus buildings, according to the UWL Classified Staff Advisory Council online, and Western Technical College La Crosse is now completely smoke free, Danielson said.

“This is the way it’s going,” Danielson said. “I think we are seeing this nationally. Places are going smoke free.”

Danielson shared options with Lumen for those who do wish to stop smoking.

“If people have questions, they can contact me at 608-796-3806 or or call the Wisconsin Quit Now line: 1-800-QUITNOW,” Danielson said. There is a link to this information at  Gundersen and Mayo hospitals both offer classes and resources for quitting as well.

“Students have to be proactive in this change,” Danielson said. “I think everyone has to help out. Community – that’s the point of this.”

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