A Faculty Senate discussion that began as early as 2009 to ban smoking on campus is finally heating up.
Sen. Martha Rosenthal ended a lively Senate discussion this last Friday with a movement that Faculty Senate endorse a ban on smoke and smokeless nicotine products on the Florida Gulf Coast University campus.
Senators will vote on this movement at the Nov. 15 Faculty Senate meeting.
“Personal freedoms are important. But we don’t allow uranium on campus … we ban things because they are dangerous,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal noted that 22 other schools in the state of Florida currently ban smoking on campus, including the University of Central Florida, the University of Miami and the University of Florida.
She cited many statistics on smoking, including the fact that every year in the United States, tobacco kills more people than alcohol, cocaine, heroin, fires, traffic accidents, homicide, suicide and AIDS combined.
“Second-hand smoke is a Class A carcinogen. It’s poison,” Rosenthal said.
Student Government has also been getting involved in a potential smoking ban. A survey sent out by Student Government on student ideas toward a smoking ban received 1600 responses in 2 weeks.
According to Student Body Vice President Luis Vargas, about 50 percent of the respondents would like a smoke-free campus.
Faculty Senate sent out a survey to FGCU faculty in 2012 to collect their thoughts on the idea.
Seventy-three percent of the faculty that responded supported a smoke-free campus, and 69 percent supported changing the oncampus locations where smoking is allowed. Currently, there are several designated smoking stations on the main campus.
Sen. Scott Anstadt directed senator attention toward the responsibility that members of the FGCU community have toward each other.
“We as a university, we should be leaders when it comes to social consciousness. The idea that we have individual rights should be superseded by the fact that we live as a community, and we affect each other,” Anstadt said.
Sen. Sandy Pevelka suggested that a ban on smoking would be “in line with our FGCU mission of environmental sustainability.” Sen. Doug Carothers pointed out that people do not smoke simply for the nicotine. “There are a lot of different reasons that people smoke … it gives an opportunity for people to take a break.”
Carothers suggested that an oncampus smoking ban is inevitable. “Let’s get it over with, it’s going to happen. But let’s find a way for people to take a break.”
In an interview with Eagle News, Rosenthal volunteered that she was against the ban when it was brought up several years ago, because at the time she felt it violated personal freedoms.
Now Rosenthal feels that the health and safety of FGCU community members mean more than this particular freedom. “If we ban it, some people will quit, and we will save some lives,” Rosenthal said.