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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Students weigh in on effectiveness of tobacco ban

It has been over eight months since the smoking ban was implemented at NMU and the tobacco free policy still remains a hard and fast rule.

The purpose of the tobacco free campus policy is to help provide a healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors of Northern Michigan University, according to the NMU website. It was also instituted to follow the lead of other universities.

Haley Mahr, a senior community health education major and student health educator at the NMU Health Promotions Office, the implementation of the policy was part of something bigger.

“From what I know, the policy was put in place because of a nationwide movement,” Mahr said. “A lot of schools downstate have banned smoking to help encourage a healthier environment, which is what NMU is about too.”

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As it stands, the policy prohibits the use of all tobacco products on campus or in university-owned vehicles. The only areas excluded are public sidewalks and roadways bordering the campus. Smoking is permitted in vehicles on campus with their windows fully closed.

Senior biochemistry major Casey Ross said she thinks this is a fair deal for smokers.

“People are still able to smoke if they want to, just not on campus,” Ross said. “If you choose to be a student here, you also choose to abide by the rules. We’re just one of the schools that chose to be tobacco free.”

Mahr said she agrees and that the ban is not too severe on smokers and helps the greater student population.

“Our campus isn’t that big, so if people want to smoke, they have the right to go onto city property and smoke,” Mahr said. “The policy is like a business owner asking people not to smoke in their restaurant.”

However, others feel the policy might prove detrimental to those who choose to smoke. Sophomore English writing major Sophia Novak said the ban is not the perfect answer for the smoking ban on-campus.

“It’s true, the campus isn’t that big,” Novak said. “But if you have a class in Jamrich, say you have ten minutes in between the end of one class and the beginning of another, it would be hard to get off campus, have a cigarette and the get back on campus and get to class on time.”

While Novak said she agrees the ban has helped people, she does not agree that it was the perfect solution.

“There are still people who smoke,” Novak said. “When I smoked, I remember it was not a question of whether or not you want to smoke a cigarette, it’s more like a need. I had an idea for smoking zones, specific areas that weren’t far enough away that you had to go off campus, but was still away from people. But nothing ever came from it.”

Ross said she feels that the damage smoking was causing on campus made the ban important.

“Smoking on campus was something of a problem,” Ross says. “The secondhand smoke was bad as was the littering with the cigarette butts. The ban was more about bettering the community than anything else.”

Novak said she also saw the problems the littering was causing.

“When I was a smoker I was a lot more angry about the ban then I am now,” Novak said. “And looking back, I think the littering problem was big. There were mounds of cigarette butts under the bushes around old Jamrich.”

And while people’s feelings about some of the stipulations of the policy may differ, the general consensus is that the ban is both effective and helpful.

“The school wants their students to be successful and healthy,” Ross said, “And one way to be successful is to be healthy.”

According to Ross the policy does not stop people from smoking, but with the cessation programs in the Health Promotions Office, it can be helpful for those who wanted to try to quit. Ross said she also feels that one of the main points of the policy was about cleaning up campus. Novak said she agreed, although she believes there may have been other reasons the ban came into place.

“This might be pessimistic, but I feel like part of it was because of university reputation definitely,” Novak says. “A lot of universities across the nation right now are moving to be  non-smoking and promoting health, so I feel a part of it was about reputation. But I feel another part of it was for the health of the campus.”

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