State

Southern Ill. University to ban most smoking

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, students walk on the new pedestrian mall on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. Smokers at the university will only be able to light up in a handful of places on the Carbondale campus starting this summer making the campus effectively smoke-free beginning July 1.
FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, students walk on the new pedestrian mall on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. Smokers at the university will only be able to light up in a handful of places on the Carbondale campus starting this summer making the campus effectively smoke-free beginning July 1.

CARBONDALE — Smokers at Southern Illinois University will only be able to light up in a handful of places on the Carbondale campus starting this summer, joining nearly 1,200 campuses nationwide that are essentially smoke-free.

Chancellor Rita Cheng said that as of July 1, only designated areas in campus parking lots will allow for smoking, the Southern Illinoisan reported. Smokers also will be allowed to use cigarettes in their vehicles — to Cheng, "a compromise."

Smoking already is banned within 15 feet of building entrances. And the ban includes smoking in dormitories, "so this takes it one step further," Cheng said, adding she hopes the campus someday will be entirely smoke-free.

"There's no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke," Cheng said. "A lot of young people are documented to begin smoking in their college years."

A SIU study showed that more than 17 percent of the university's students smoke cigarettes, while statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that more than 16 million Americans have a smoking-related disease.

SIU will join 1,182 smoke-free college campuses nationwide on July 1, according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. That number is up from 446 campuses in October 2012.

Some smokers are grappling with the pending restrictions. Jon Poynter, a senior majoring in history and art, said that while he understands people around a smoker may not like the smell or smoke, he believes the ban denies him his right to smoke.

"I can understand a smoke-free campus, but I feel there should be more designated areas other than parking lots," he said.

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