Smoke clears with SIU new Clean Air Policy

By Gus Bode

SIUC’s tobacco committee is hoping to expand its Clean Air Policy.

Co-director of the committee that created the Livefree Tobacco Initiative at SIUC, Eileen Vitello said the university is continuing efforts to create a smoke-free environment.

The current Clean Air Policy, which has been in effect since October 1987, states smoking is banned in university buildings or vehicles, and requires all smokers to stand at least 25 feet away from university buildings when smoking a cigarette.


In addition to the Clean Air Policy, the tobacco committee created the initiative to promote a tobacco-free lifestyle by participating in events such as the Nutrition Fair in the Student Health Center.

Edith Nagoma, coordinator of the Livefree Tobacco Initiative, said the committee works to raise awareness of the university’s tobacco policy.

“This policy is important to the university because international students and out-of-state students may not know about the Illinois state smoking policy or the SIU Clean Air Policy,” Nagoma said.

Other college campuses have started to go smoke-free with an American Lung Association program.

According to its Web site, the American Lung Association has teamed up with college campuses to create the Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge.

The challenge is a nationwide program to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in public places by 2010, and reduce smoke related illness. The movement has already gained momentum on the east coast.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a law banning smoking on all university property and increased cigarette taxes in the city. The city now includes 14 campuses that are smoke-free and prohibit tobacco use.


Vitello said SIUC officials are aware of the Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge but are not yet involved with the program.

“SIU has been working with the American Lung Association for about five years; however, we are not currently involved with the Smokefree Air Challenge,” Vitello said. “But this would be very helpful and could have a huge impact on our campus.”

She said if a student violates the current Clean Air Policy, the university tries to deal with it quickly.

If there is a complaint against a student disobeying the policy in front of University Housing, anyone from the housing director to judicial affairs could address the issue.

If the police are involved with the compliant, state law allows them to issue a ticket after educating the offender on the Illinois state smoking law.

SIUC Police Capt. Kay Doan said officers do not receive many smoking complaints.

Some students think the policy is fine and the campus smokers don’t bother them at all.

“The Clear Air Policy is pretty fair,” said Alex Hogg, a senior from West Frankfort studying business management. “Twenty-five feet isn’t demanding seeing as how there is already an Illinois state smoking ban.”

“I don’t smoke and I have been on campus where students were smoking and it was no big deal. As long as the smoker is courteous there’s no problem,” he said.

Blair Triplett, a senior from Olympia Fields studying economics and international trade, said she is familiar with the Illinois state smoking ban but believes there are other issues that warrant greater attention.

However, other students have a huge problem with smoking on campus and the university’s smoking policy.

Sheila Rucker, a senior from Chicago studying psychology, said the smoking on campus affects her health.

“Cigarette smoke makes me sick,” Rucker said. “I am asthmatic and the smell of the smoke makes my asthma flare up.”

“The policy should call for the smokers to move even further than 25 feet, more like 100 feet,” she said.

Vitello said the Livefree Tobacco Initiative was created to protect the health of students on campus.

“I want the students to know that the policy isn’t trying to take away anyone’s right to smoke by any means,” she said.

The committee plans to change the name of the current Clear Air Policy to a name that will be easier for students to search on the university’s Web site to get information. The name change will have to be approved by the general counsel, chancellor and finally the president of the university before it goes into effect.

Shaneika Booker can be reached at 536-3311 or [email protected].