Smoking ban vote set for June



Smoking on Auburn's campus may be coming to an end. Requests have been sent to Auburn University President Jay Gogue in hopes of changing health regulations to rid campus of smoke.

Eric Smith, director of Health Promotions and Wellness Services, responded to the issue brought up by Gogue after receiving a letter requesting a smoke-free campus by an anonymous student.

Soon after, Smith was asked by Vice President of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry to investigate student interest in a smoke-free environment.

Smith, newly appointed Auburn employee, is a supporter of the ban.

"Four hundred and sixty-six campuses are currently smoke-free, and hopefully Auburn will follow this pattern," Smith said. "New York City recently went smoke free as a city, and many colleges are following the same pattern."

Some smokers have voiced concern that the ban would limit their efficiency, especially during finals.

The proposed ban would not allow smoking near the dorms, but the specifics have yet to be determined.

Smith understands that University residents will be affected by the ban, but he emphasized that most of the residents in the dorm are 18 years old and unable to buy cigarettes.

Smith also cited a survey by Bacchus and Gama that discovered that smoking policies had no negative effect on resident life. They found that enrollment actually increased.

The SGA argued that if the policy is passed, it would be implemented at the beginning of an academic year.

Since then, the bill has come under revisions, including an agreement that the ban would not be implemented until the start of the 2012 academic year.

It is the job of the SGA to guide discussions and collect student opinion about a potential ban. The SGA, led by Kirby Turnage, uploaded an online survey two weeks before the vote where students could raise concerns and voice their opinions.

The results were decisively in favor of a smoke-free campus.

"(It's) good in some ways. My neighbor smokes and I feel affected by his smoke," said Madhukarl Lohani, PhD student in biomedical science who supports the ban. "I feel like smokers take away my right to breathe fresh air."

According to the online surveys, 88% of students said they were not smokers and 12% replied that they did currently smoke. In the same survey, 51% of students strongly agree to a smoking ban, 22% strongly disagree, 10% disagree, 13% agree and 4% replied apathetically.

"(It's) just another school policy, it won't be implemented for another year," said SGA Vice President Vanessa Tarpos. "They'll (current dormitory residents) probably move out of the dorms, so it won't affect them."

Skipworth said there is an overwhelming majority in favor of a smoke free campus.

Such a drastic measure to eradicate smoking on campus does not come without concerns, he said.

"The ban would make school more stressful," said Martin Donaldson, sophomore in pre-business. "I need a cigarette before and after tests."

The final vote on the ban will happen in June when the Auburn Staff Council assembles to make a final decision.

The results from that assembly will be sent to the president to make a settlement.

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