ECC prepares to go smoke-free

ELGIN – Elgin Community College students will return to a slightly different campus after spring break.

It will be smoke-free as of March 30.

Toya Webb, a communications specialist for the college, said the change shouldn't be a surprise to students and staff. Emails have been sent, informational sessions have been held and signs have been posted about the soon-to-be smoke-free campus, she said.

"We made sure that everyone knows about this," Webb said.

ECC is becoming a smoke-free campus to comply with the Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act, which prohibits smoking on the property of state-supported institutions of higher learning. Former Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law in August 2014. It takes effect July 1 and applies to indoor and outdoor spaces on campuses.

"Illinois' college students shouldn't be subject to unwanted cigarette smoke on the campuses they call home," Quinn said in a statement.

"We want all schools to be healthy, clean and productive places of learning for Illinois' bright young minds. This new law will improve the health of our students and encourage healthier lifestyles after college graduation."

Sugar Grove-based Waubonsee Community College already was smoke-free at the time of the bill's passage, according to a news release from the governor's office.

ECC will prohibit smoking on all its campuses with the exception of the A, H and J parking lots on the Spartan Drive campus in Elgin.

Currently, smokers can smoke at an open space on the south side of campus by the lake, said Ryan Callahan, superintendent of grounds.

When deciding how to comply with the new law, Callahan said, college officials wanted to provide designated smoking areas on the east and west sides of campus, as well as one to accommodate staff.

Smokers may smoke only in their own parked vehicle or in another parked vehicle with the owner's permission. All openings – such as doors, windows and sunroofs – must be closed, Callahan said.

ECC police will enforce the new rules, Webb said. A warning will be given for the first offense, and subsequent violations will lead to a fine: $25 for the second offense, $50 for the third, $75 for the fourth and $100 for the fifth.

Webb said a lot of people have asked about how smoking is being defined. It includes the carrying, smoking, burning, inhaling or exhaling of any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah, weed, herbs, electronic cigarette, vapor cigarette, faux-smoking device, water-based device or other lighted smoking equipment, as well as smokeless chewing tobacco products, according to the college.

Resources are available for students and staff wanting to quit smoking, Webb said. She said materials are available for employees through the ECC Employee Wellness Committee, and information is available for students through Wellness Services.

Visit www.elgin.edu/smoking for information.

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