Campus smoking restrictions debated

Campus-wide smoking bans and restrictions have become standard at many colleges and universities in recent years. MCTC joins 22 other MNSCU colleges and universities that have implemented indoor and outdoor campus smoking policies.

Minnesota state law prohibits smoking inside of campus buildings, and MCTC has provided designated areas throughout the campus for smoking.

Smoking outside these areas is against MCTC campus policy.

“We have an interest in education at MCTC, including healthy living for all,” Irene Kovala, then vice president of academic and student affairs, said of the policy. “In that regard, we have discussed the topic of a smoke-free campus for some time.”

Kovala went on to say that having city-owned public sidewalks adjacent to campus gives smokers an opportunity to smoke in a place where public safety officers can do little to stop it.

“The greatest challenge we have is being a college in the city with public sidewalks in immediate proximity to the campus,” Kovala said.

While smoking was never permitted in any MCTC structure, outdoor smoking restrictions were rarely enforced in the past.

However, now if a student is found smoking in an unauthorized area public safety officers may issue a citation in the amount of $25.00 as well as other disciplinary actions sanctioned by the college.

Student Senate President Brad Conley said the senate was split on the discussion of smoking restrictions and a potential campus-wide ban.

Conley noted that there was a divide in opinions, with reasons ranging from legality to health concerns.

“It is a sensitive subject for many reasons … but [the discussion] must be done,” Conley said.

Conley has requested that a student survey be utilized to acquire the “rightful voice” of the MCTC student body.

Conley also stated that the Senate will take steps to “sharpen” their opinion and “make recommendations to the administration.”

On June 27, 2006, the Surgeon General of the United States released a report entitled The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, which states, “Whether you are young or old, healthy or sick, secondhand smoke is dangerous.”

This issue of second-hand smoke lies at the heart of the smoking debate on campus.

Many advocates for civil liberties, on the other hand, consider outright smoking bans invasive and discriminatory against the approximately 45 million smokers in the United States.

Currently, four areas on the MCTC campus are designated as smoker-friendly.

All four areas include cigarette extinguishers, and the designated location outside the technology building has a seating area.

MCTC student Greg Anderson, who smokes, said of the smoking restrictions, “I am down with what they are doing. At least we can still smoke, some schools you can’t smoke at all.”