University waits on smoke-free policy

By Luke Nozicka

Contrary to the March announcement, the university will not be smoke free as soon as expected. 

The SIU Board of Trustees decided at its April 17 meeting the university will postpone the policy until legislatures pass a law banning smoking and the use of tobacco products at all state universities.

President Glenn Poshard said he was instructed by the board to inform Chancellor Rita Cheng and SIU-Edwardsville Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe that the university will wait until the state creates a policy.


Cheng said the original smoke-free policy was to begin early this summer. She said Senate Bill 2202, the bill the board is waiting on for approval, might be more restrictive than the originally proposed policy.

“One of the recommendations that is coming out of our group was to have designated areas in parking lots for smokers and the law in Springfield would be a completely smoke-free campus,” Cheng said.

Poshard said the bill will create a Smoke-Free Campus Act, which would become effective and would ban smoking on all campuses July 1, 2014 if passed and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. The bill would prohibit smoking on state-supported institutions of higher education.

Poshard said the House added language requiring universities to provide a map of its smoke-free locations.

The bill defines smoking as carrying, burning, inhaling or exhaling any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah, weed or herbs. It also includes products containing nicotine. However, products approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration may be used.

Poshard said he spoke to John Charles, SIU’s executive director for governmental and public affairs, minutes before the board meeting. Charles said “It’s a given” the bill will pass unanimously by large margins, Poshard said.

However, Poshard does not know when the bill will pass.


Cheng said the university has been talking about the ban for several years and thought of the smoke-free policy before legislatures.

She said the university does not want to spend money on signs or educational material that would not be concise with the law. She said she agrees with the board’s decision to wait on an actual law.

“It’s a practical way of putting the legislative process in place and waiting to see in the next few weeks what happens there,” she said. 

Don Lowery, secretary of the board, said at the meeting he does not oppose a smoke free campus, but thinks the chancellor jumped the gun announcing the policy.

“I think that was a mistake in light of the fact that the bill was pending,” Lowery said. “How are we going to deal with the contractors who come on campus, and they had the steel worker up on the fourth floor – he’s going to smoke – now what are we going to do about that?”

Both Edwardsville and Carbondale announced the smoke-free policy within a week of each other and received negative publicity, Lowery said.

“What about the students who this is their home? Who can go outside their dorm and smoke a cigarette,” Lowery said. “We’re in a rural area where the smoking of a cigarette isn’t going to hurt anything outside.”

He said the university should wait until the bill is passed to make enforcing the policy simpler.

“Let’s take, for instance. it doesn’t pass, then we’ve got a nightmare,” Lowery said. “My concern about this was they should’ve thought it out. It should’ve been bounced by the board before they did something expanding the current state law of this state before this stuff was announced.”

Luke Nozicka can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @lukenozicka, or 536-3311 ext. 268.