At the Feb. 21 and 22 Board of Regents meeting, more than 10 people testified on behalf of making UAA a smoke-free campus. Pre-med student Shana Kim also spoke in favor of making UAA a smoke-free campus.
The students’ goal, informally presented by Gabriel Garcia, assistant professor of public health, is to get 1,000 signatures per semester until the campus is smoke-free. Garcia said he will not stop his efforts until UAA is entirely smoke-free.
At the recent Board of regents meeting in Anchorage, about 300 students signed a petition in favor of a smoke-free campus. In the last five weeks, the group has gotten nearly 100 more signatures.
“There are no safe levels, nor safe distance,” Garcia said, explaining his feelings on secondhand smoke.
While there is no official plan drafted for a smoke-free campus, according to Kim, the transition will likely be broken up into a two-part plan if it is ever approved. She explained that she would first like to see the campus be smoke-free, then tobacco-free.
If passed, the ban may allow students to smoke in their parked vehicles on campus.
Kim said the group’s next step is to work with any USUAA senators who are willing to endorse the proposition, in addition to increasing student involvement via petitions and polls. She would like to collaborate with USUAA senators to move toward becoming UAA a smoke-free campus by the end of the semester.
Kim and Garcia both emphasize the impression smoking makes on children on campus and the right of the non-smoker to breathe clean air to support their cause.
Kim said secondhand smoke personally bothers her and causes lung cancer, which both contribute to her personal support of the ban. She also does not feel the current smoking policy accurately reflect the interests of students, staff and faculty.
She would like to see a smoke-free UAA by 2015.
According to Kim, the group is currently researching smoking policies at other universities.
“It’s a behavioral and cultural thing we’re trying to influence,” Garcia said.
Performing arts sophomore Leo Crowley smokes often on campus and strongly opposes the ban. As a compromise, he suggested distanced designated smoking areas.
“That’d be whack,” Crowley said after hearing the details of the proposed ban.
Nursing junior Erica Dittmar said she partially supports the ban. She said she quit smoking and doesn’t prefer walking by people while they smoke.
She said she would support the ban in an ideal world, but she suggested more ashtrays and enforced designated smoking areas as a compromise.
Kristen Krain-Robinson, justice senior and student worker at the Consortium Library, supports the smoking ban. She said cigarette butts were found in the library stairwell three to four times last year. Loose tobacco and marijuana were also found on a table over winter break.
Despite these incidents, she said none have occurred since the spring semester started.
There will soon be posters to advertise the motion to make UAA a smoke-free campus and more efforts may be seen in the future, Kim said.