Burning questions — ASUI evaluates student opinions toward on-campus tobacco use
The University of Idaho is the last university in Idaho without a campus-wide smoking ban, because smoking on campus has historically not been an issue, said ASUI Director of Policy and Advancement Chris Schrette.
Last week in correspondence with popcorn Friday, ASUI polled students asking their feelings on smoking and tobacco use on campus.
“We are in a unique position in the sense that no action has been taken by the administration on this matter thus far,” Schrette said. “The ball is in our court as students, as far as addressing the issue ourselves.”
Hannah Davis, ASUI President, said student involvement and voice is important for every university policy issue that affects students, and especially the topic of smoking on campus because there are students who smoke and students who don’t smoke.
She said it’s ASUI’s job to make sure they hear from as many students as they can and it’s their duty to relay that information to the administration.
“If it had the support of the students, which it does in some aspects (the specific area ban) the ASUI senate could ban tobacco use on campus if it chose too,” Schrette said. “The administration could step in at any time and ban it as well.”
Davis said this issue is important to the students, faculty and staff at UI because for some people it is a huge health issue.
She said that not everyone enjoys having to walk through secondhand smoke when they come to campus, while for others it’s their personal decision to be able to smoke on campus.
“I am excited to address these tough issues for the rest of the year. And I would advise students to ignore any Facebook or other non-scientific polls related to this issue that may exist or exist in the future,” Schrette said. “They simply are not valid.”
In a survey Schrette conducted he found that with 95 percent confidence between 27 and 37 percent of campus supports a complete ban on all tobacco products, between 67 and 77 percent of campus supports limiting the use of smoking tobacco to a few specific areas, and between 15.5 and 25.5 percent of campus has used tobacco within the past week.
Davis said smoking and the use of tobacco products hasn’t been a huge issue that she has noticed, but she thinks it is important to promote healthy lifestyles for students.
“But it’s also not my job or anyone else’s in ASUI to tell students what to do,” Davis said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for people to smoke near the entrances of campus buildings, but if there was a specific area where they could go that would be appropriate so that they don’t bother those who don’t want to be exposed to cigarette smoke.”
She said it’s an issue that needs a compromise.
“I don’t promote smoking or the use of other tobacco products, but to each their own,” she said. “The issue needs to be about mutual respect, smokers need to respect non-smokers and vice versa.”
Erin Roetker can be reached at arg-news.uidaho.edu