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Holy smokes: Faculty senate against cigarettes on campus

Smokers at Florida Gulf Coast University could be one step closer to losing their tobacco rights on campus. After more than five years of debate, Faculty Senate has finally voted against smoking.
On Nov. 15, faculty passed a motion 20-6 with three3 abstentions that supports a ban on tobacco and smokeless tobacco products at FGCU.
This does not mean these products are now forbidden on campus; the motion means Faculty Senate has taken a position against tobacco products. A tobacco ban would require collective support from students, staff and the administration with a final decision by President Wilson Bradshaw.
Faculty Sen. Allison Bacigalupi of the College of Arts and Sciences polled faculty in her college and found that eight times as many CAS faculty approved of a tobacco ban.
Sen. Beth Elliott said, “We’re not the only school that’s done this. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Sen. Monica Renard suggested that such a ban would discourage students who smoke from attending FGCU.
Sen. Mary Krome asked, “Where do we draw the line?” questioning whether a ban on tobacco for health reasons could lead to bans on unhealthy foods on campus, such as in vending machines.
A similar point was brought up by Sen. Derek Buzasi, who said, “If we’re going to apply this yardstick, we need to apply it to everything − not just the things you don’t like.”
Sen. Gizelle Peretti read a letter signed by several members of the College of Business that argued to move smoking stations rather than ban smoking altogether. The letter reasons that such a ban would violate personal freedoms of University members, would be difficult to enforce, and argues that “banning activities because they increase health costs sets a dangerous precedent for the prospect of individual freedom”. The letter can be found on under the headline “Don’t ban smoking − move stations elsewhere”.
Sen. Doug Carothers summed up the feelings of some faculty when he said that perhaps more importantly thaninstead of banning tobacco products, FGCU needs to help users quit their addiction.
Carothers paraphrased Benjamin Franklin in saying that someone convinced against their will is of their own opinion still. “If we ban it, as soon as they (smokers) get off campus, they will light up. If we help them quit, we can actually make a difference,” Carothers said.
Sen. Martha Rosenthal addressed the “slippery slope” argument by saying, “We can stop. This isn’t going to lead to a ban on potato chips.”
To the argument that a tobacco ban will not be 100 percent effective, Rosenthal said, “There are rules against drug use on campus, and people still do drugs. It doesn’t mean we throw out that rule.”
While Faculty Senate now has a clear position on smoking, Student Government is still discussing whether to stand with or against its faculty counterpart.
Student Sen. Sarah Flick took a strong position supporting a tobacco ban at the Nov. 12 Student Government meeting saying,. “It’s my right as a human to have a smoke-free environment.”
Sen. Courtney Platt said, “It’s incredibly selfish to put other people’s health at risk.”
Student Body Vice President Luis Vargas said, “UPD is not going to enforce a ban at all. They don’t have time to chase people down.” Still, Vargas supports a smoking ban. “When someone makes a decision, not everyone’s going to be happy, but you have to do what’s best for the overall group.”
Sen. Kallie Cahill argued against a ban. “If you eliminate it completely, you’re going to have a huge group of unhappy students. You can’t force someone to quit smoking.”
Senate Pro Tempore Sean Kempton said, “No one is forced to walk over there (designated smoking areas). We already have a good compromise … If helping people is really your concern, I think we should start a campaign to talk about how to quit smoking.”

Pictured: Biology major Justin Braden exercising his freedom to smoke a cigarette at a designated smoking area on FGCU’s campus.


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