Tobacco-free campus policy further promoted to students
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Student Health Advisory Board members promoted and collected signatures for the board’s tobacco-free campus proposal in the Alumni Memorial Union on Monday and Tuesday.
The proposal was passed by Marquette Student Government last semester but needs to be approved by University President Michael Lovell before it can be implemented. The University Academic Senate endorsed MUSG to set up a working committee to develop a plan for the possible tobacco-free policy, according to Chris Jenkins, associate director of university communication.
Brett Wisniewski, the board’s president and senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the board wants to protect the rights of non-smokers who could be influenced by secondhand smoke.
“Lovell has expressed his support,” he said in an email about the university going tobacco-free. “But (he) also wants to see sutdent support for the policy – it will not be instated by administration without student support.”
Jenkins said Lovell plans to discuss the tobacco-free proposal with his advisory team in the near future.
The board members had over 1,600 signatures after this tabling session. Wisniewski, who became personally invested in the issue as a sophomore, said the board has been collecting these signatures for more than three years.
The proposal prohibits students from smoking in areas that are near academic buildings or residence halls. This includes the green space by the Alumni Memorial Union. Rather than having faculty and staff dole out punishments if students smoke in tobacco-free zones, the initiative will be student-enforced.
“The end goal is a culture change,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski’s support cultivated from the belief that most habits students develop in college continue throughout the rest of their lives. He was also driven by his future in the health science field and his passion to look out for his Marquette peers.
“I am supportive of this cause because I know people who have never smoked but have suffered from lung cancer because of secondhand smoke,” said Jessica Wertz, a SHAB member and sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke caused 34,000 heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths in adult non-smokers each year from 2005-2009.
“I’ve had family members who have had lung cancer,” said Dani Dunn, a senior in the College of Health Sciences who signed the petition. “Not smoking is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent cancer for yourself and others.”
SHAB received funding from grant program Spark so it could give away chapstick, hand sanitizer and pins to those who signed the petition. The tabelers also handed out fliers about the tobacco-free policy, the dangers of smoking and healthy lifestyles in college.