STAFF EDITORIAL: Union Sports Annex should be smoke free at all hours

The Union Sports Annex’s decision to ban smoking before 9 p.m. is an important step toward a smoke-free campus, but not a big enough leap.

Smoking is just as harmful before 9 p.m. as it is after 9 p.m. Families, alumni, employees and students will still inhale secondhand smoke past 9 o’clock.

And in accordance with the law that will ban smoking statewide on July 5, 2010, the Annex should also be smoke free around the clock — no matter the hour.

Annex staff said Wisconsin had not yet decided to go smoke free at the time of their decision.

The staff wanted to take a “baby step” toward eliminating smoking, and the 9 p.m. cutoff would get students accustomed to a non-smoking environment but avoid punishing smokers. The ban is also lifted when the dinner rush is presumably over and programs such as bingo begin.

However, banning smoking for just part of the day is admirable only at face value, especially since the number of Marquette students who actually smoke is often overestimated.

In a 2007 survey, students perceived that 62 percent of Marquette students smoked.

However, only 13 percent of the student body actually smoked in 2007. Why punish the other 87 percent?

Employees who work until close will have to deal with the harmful effects of secondhand smoking after nine. Students, alumni and faculty who eat at 8 o’clock will still be around when smoking is allowed at nine.

No matter the time, smoking is still detrimental.

States like Illinois and Iowa are already smoke free. Bars and restaurants in Fond du Lac, Madison, Shorewood, Appleton and Eau Claire have banned smoking.

Since 24 percent of Marquette students enrolled in 2008 were from Illinois, 0.9 percent from Iowa, and some from these Wisconsin cities, many Marquette students are already used to smoke-free buildings.

Going smoke free would not be a huge adjustment for these students. Students aren’t allowed to smoke in residence halls, nor cafeterias. Soon Marquette students won’t even be allowed to smoke in buildings in Wisconsin.

If Wisconsin is going smoke free next year, the Annex should go smoke free this year.