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Campus smoking ban up in the air

Campus smoking ban
The fate of tobacco users on campus is still up in smoke.

A recent survey made by the University Benefits Advisory Council (UBAC) asked students whether or not they smoke cigarettes, and if they would support a campus-wide ban on tobacco products.

After completion, the UBAC will then make a “recommendation to President Bramley to make UVM a tobacco-free campus, or not,” the survey stated.

The UBAC’s recommendation has yet to be made.

In a study made by the University in 2009, data showed that only three percent of students smoked cigarettes on a daily basis, while 13.5 percent smoked at least once a month.

In a study conducted by UVM’s health promotions that same year, 65 percent of all students had never used cigarettes — 57 percent of men and 69 percent of women — while 17.5 percent who had, had not in the past month.

“That 65 percent statistic surprises me,” first-year Ben Lindstrom-Ives said. “I think cigarettes are a bad idea in general; they cause cancer and people die.”

Most UVM students, the survey found, have a distorted view of smoking on campus. Seventy percent of those surveyed believed that the typical student had smoked in the past thirty days, while 17.2 percent believed the typical student smoked daily.

Former Mayor Bob Kiss vetoed a proposed ban on smoking outdoors across a fifteen-block radius in downtown Burlington earlier this year after the City Council passed the law on an 8-6 vote.

Students who would not support the proposed recommendation said they believed it was an infringement on their rights.

“I think a ban would be absolutely obscene,” sophomore Danny Graham said. “That seems unconstitutional; work on your cig’ bins or something [instead].”

First-year Katherine Weir agreed.

“If you don’t smoke then good for you, but it shouldn’t be something that’s going to affect everyone,” Weir said.

Lindstrom-Ives, however, said he would support the ban due to the detrimental effects of second-hand smoke and the pollution problem caused by cigarette butts.

“If people want to smoke away from campus I think that’s fine, but smoking on campus is counter-productive to having a healthy environment,” he said.

UVM is not the first school to consider banning tobacco products on campus. In January, Chicago’s City Colleges approved a tobacco ban on all seven of its campuses throughout the city, which took effect March 1.

Other colleges across the country that have gone smoke-free include the University of Kentucky and the University of Michigan. In Kentucky, one of the nation’s heaviest smoker states (25.6 percent), enrollment in quitting programs rose by 113 people after the school’s ban took effect.

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