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2014 Winter Issue 5 (February 14, 2014)

Students Fight for Smoking Ban

February 16, 2014
By Abby Hellman

There has recently been talk over the concept of having a tobacco free campus. Why not? Hundreds of campuses have already begun this movement, toward what is described as a cleaner brighter future for students. And yet, tobacco is a completely legal substance that has zero regulation in the state of Minnesota. Of course it is legal, because technically this is private property. But the question remains is it right?

Carleton College prides itself being a collection of freethinking individuals capable of making well-informed decisions on what matters most to them. So here stands a group of students that is attempting to change Carleton for what they believe is the better. Yet this is the third attempt to get this movement off the ground. The past two tries have failed due to a lack of interest. This time around, the Rice County Public Health department has granted Carleton the Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) grant. With this funding, three student workers have been hired to build a coalition and try to build general interest in the concept of making Carleton a tobacco free campus. Julia Kromholz, one of these workers states that “our goal is to create an atmosphere where people have a safe environment to quit, and where smoking is not encouraged to start”.

Just this week a meeting was been set up with Dean Julie Thorton in order to get this project under way. In addition, the workers sat in Sayles during Convocation to get people to sign pledges for support. In this busy hour only ten students signed; however, there is optimism about the coalition. Through time and hard work there is no doubt that this movement will gain momentum.

The question still lingers as to whether or not the student body is actually in favor of this change. The SWAs on campus are very much against it. They clearly state that it is their job to educate the student population and not to judge any activities that they partake in. The custodial staff supports it because they no longer wish to clean up the many cigarette buds that litter this campus. However, this issue is something that could easily be fixed by the student body by simply being more conscious of the mess that they are making.

Through all of these protests there is an obvious fact that exists that tobacco is bad for health. All of the smokers on campus do realize that what they are doing could very well harm them and others. Is this a conscious decision that they make or are they truly addicted? At the student activities fair where the tobacco free campus campaign was first introduced an anonymous student stated that “I will fight you every step of the way, but I am sure that I will be glad in the end that you are doing this”. So with this in mind the health of the student body could in fact take precedent over the individuals desire to smoke.

This movement is just beginning to get underway, and the coalition has been making way with the administration and with SHAC, so the time for an opinion has come.

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