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Amy Dalrymple, Published January 04 2009

Concordia College considering campuswide smoke ban

Concordia College students and officials are discussing a campuswide smoking ban, a year after Minnesota State University Moorhead adopted a similar policy.

The college’s health promotions committee is researching a total ban on smoking in outdoor areas, expanding the current policy that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of buildings.

Members of Concordia’s Student Government Association are reviewing responses from a recent student survey and will make a recommendation this month.

Rachel Aho, student body vice president, said the 1,200 student responses were mixed.

The greatest number of responses said they either agree or strongly agree with banning smoking, but it was not an overwhelming majority, Aho said.

However, students who wrote comments on the surveys were primarily opposed to a smoking ban, Aho said.

Many commented that the existing smoking policy should be enforced before the campus expands it, she said.

Ashley Leister, a student representative on the health promotions committee, said she favors a smoking ban to protect students from secondhand smoke.

Leister, a senior who is a double major in exercise science and health, also said a ban would help smokers be more successful at giving up the habit.

The committee plans to make a recommendation to Concordia administrators at the end of the month, Leister said.

MSUM went tobacco-free last Jan. 1 and officials continually evaluate the policy, said Michael Parks, director of Campus Security.

Initially, security enforced the policy on the boulevards around campus.

But officials have since relaxed that because people were congregating in the yards of neighboring residents, prompting complaints about smoke and litter, Parks said.

MSUM also installed receptacles for cigarette butts to cut down on littering, Parks said.

North Dakota State University adopted a new policy July 1 to ban smoking 50 feet from building entrances.

Bruce Frantz, facilities management director, said people complied with the policy up until the last few weeks of the semester.

“Now that it’s really cold, I’m seeing some infractions out there, much more than what they were before,” Frantz said. “I think it’s going to get worse as it gets colder out, too.”

Joe Heilman, NDSU’s student body president, said the policy has been successful in moving some smokers away from buildings.

It may be easier to implement a campuswide ban rather than the 50-foot rule, Heilman said, because it would be more clear-cut.

But even then finding a way to enforce it would be difficult, Heilman said.

“I don’t think you’re ever going to stop it completely,” he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter

Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590