On-campus tobacco ban one step away from passing

By , Reporter  |  Wednesday, May 8, 2013 8:28 PM

The president’s staff, including the Rev. Dennis Dease, passed an Undergraduate Student Government proposal that would ban tobacco use on campus Monday for final review in the fall. When the staff reviews the proposition for the last time in the fall, president-elect Julie Sullivan will have replaced Dease on the staff.

If the language and implementation plan passes the last review, all St. Thomas campuses will be tobacco-free effective Jan. 1, 2014.

According to the Star Tribune, more than 1,100 college and university campuses in the nation have already gone tobacco-free; the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus Senate passed a similar measure this week. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler told the Star Tribune that “becoming a tobacco-free campus has become an expectation rather than innovation.”

Students smoke hookah in the Upper Quad on Tuesday afternoon as a stress relief. If the final proposal passes the presidential staff in the fall, starting Jan. 1, 2014, all tobacco products will be banned on all four St. Thomas campuses. (Anastasia Straley/TommieMedia)

Students smoke hookah in the Upper Quad on Tuesday afternoon as a stress relief. If the final proposal passes the presidential staff in the fall, starting Jan. 1, 2014, all tobacco products will be banned on all four St. Thomas campuses. (Anastasia Straley/TommieMedia)

Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney, biology professor Jill Manske and former USG President Mike Orth presented the actionable item to the president’s staff.

“This means we are one giant step closer to a tobacco-free campus at St. Thomas,” Orth said.

Canney will draft the final legislation, and USG President Jenna Johnson said she is happy to see support of the three-year effort.

“I think that this is a significant step in promoting healthy choices in St. Thomas students,” Johnson said. “We’ll be putting together programs for students that are interested in quitting smoking as well.”

Johnson said she is not worried that students who smoke will disrupt neighborhood relations as they are pushed off campus.

“We’ll be working with different committees,” Johnson said. “We’ve been talking with neighborhood relations, so we don’t see any issues in the future with the neighbors.”

However, some St. Thomas students are not looking forward to the implementation process. As he sat with a group that was smoking hookah in the Upper Quad, sophomore Eric Anderson said meeting people while smoking tobacco products was a social catalyst for him when he first came to St. Thomas.

“Hookah circles are an essential aspect of campus life. Freshmen can meet new people in a relaxed environment that ends up turning into lifelong connections,” Anderson said.

Junior Andy Brown, who favors smoking cigars, also said he opposes a ban.

“Smoking is done outside in an open air setting and those who chew tobacco pose no threat to others,” Brown said. “I think it’s absurd that our freedoms are being quashed by health nuts.”

Yet health precautions for smokers and nonsmokers alike are one of the driving forces behind the policy change according to Johnson, and USG’s research shows most St. Thomas students are supportive of the change. Junior Emily Kindelspire said she might anticipate some “kickback” from upset students, but she thinks the change is ultimately in the best interest of everyone on campus.

“I think it’s a good step for St. Thomas to take. Personally, I hate seeing cigarette butts around, even in the planters. Even being outside the library, I have to sit here and smell people smoke,” Kindelspire said. “There might be some tension, but overall, I think people will understand that it’s a step to help people make a more healthy choice.”

Anastasia Straley can be reached at stra0669@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in News and has 14 comments so far.


  1. Andy Brown
    May. 9, 2013 12:54 AM

    It’s all bollocks. Smokers are still going to smoke and those who chew tobacco are still going to chew. Let us be.

  2. Chris Lanari
    May. 9, 2013 8:41 AM

    ‘”Even being outside the library, I have to sit here and smell people smoke,” Kindelspire said.’

    “Sit somewhere else” is my suggestion to these kinds of people.

  3. Nick McAndrews
    May. 9, 2013 9:07 AM

    I find it a little ridiculous that USG has the ability to take away student’s rights to consume products that are both legal by the federal and state government. Banning tobacco products inside buildings is a completely understandable and, at this point in time, obvious ruling. However, to ban all tobacco products throughout campus sets too harsh of a precedent and imposes on the rights of many people simply because others are concerned with the smell or what’s healthy. 

    I’m not concerned with arguing in favor of smoking cigarettes. I don’t smoke them, I don’t think they smell good and I don’t have any interest in starting to smoke them. That being said, I don’t think you should take away someone’s right to consume a product that is legal to consume. 

    If you move on to chewing tobacco or hookahs, that is where it begins to get ridiculous. If someone is consuming the product in a respectful way (and by that I mean spitting into a container of some kind, or using a hookah out in the open where the smoke, which really doesn’t have an offensive smell in most cases) who is this really hurting? If you are more than 15 feet away from a hookah and you tell me you’re offended by the odors, you’re exaggerating. 

  4. Don Nollet
    May. 9, 2013 9:16 AM

    Finally! Even U-Minn figured this one out already.

  5. Oisin Quinn
    May. 9, 2013 2:06 PM

    Firstly-I am not a smoker. If smoking is banned on campus where will students who smoke go at night for a cigarette? Drink may also be involved for some. So now they are going off campus late in the evening/late at night. You only have to read public safety reports about freqent thefts, muggings, assualt.

  6. Bryce Werkmeister
    May. 9, 2013 9:01 PM

    Excellent comment Nick. I am in the same position you are and have the exact same thoughts on the subject. While ResLife is finally being reasonable and changing its night access policies to treat students like adults, USG has decided to treat us as children unable to live with one another unless we are forced to have exactly the same habits. Ridiculous! In addition, once again I ask where the research is that “proves” even a slight majority of the students approve of a ban? I have only seen evidence to the contrary within USG’s own documents: http://www.stthomas.edu/media/undergraduatestudentgovernment/pdf/Second_Committee_Rep.pdf

  7. Dylan Wallace
    May. 9, 2013 10:44 PM

    Bryce, I mean the study shows that as of May 2011 it was pretty even, and that a majority of UST students wouldn’t even be affected by this ban…

  8. Brian Fulton
    May. 10, 2013 12:00 AM

    Embrace the feeling of people trying to get you to be obedient.

  9. Thomas Engrav
    May. 11, 2013 2:39 PM

    Yes! Finally! Tobacco is one scourge of this Earth, so I’m glad this is finally being done. You choose to go to this campus, so they can make whatever rules they want. If you don’t like them, then don’t go to school there. 

  10. Frank Mahoney
    May. 11, 2013 2:53 PM

    I’m an alum and I’m a non-smoker, I guess my one question to this whole smoking ban is how exactly are they (public safety) going to enforce this?  Is public safety going to go up to ever person they see smoking a cigarette and tell them to put it out or what? Further with chew, I agree with Nick, as long as you are spitting into a bottle, how is that harming anyone? 

  11. Coady Owens
    May. 11, 2013 11:44 PM

    I transferred in from a smoke-free campus. Let me tell you a few things…It was awful. Smoking areas on the edges of campus became grungy, full of garbage, and locales for delinquency.  I was an RA at that University and at least 40% of the stuff I had to document/report to public safety came from one of those areas.  ALSO the campus was just as dirty as before…cigarette butts galore on the sidewalks and in the lawns.  It was a great way for the University to brag about something, but it produced 0% practical benefit. 

    Finally: “a step to help people make a more healthy choice…” Seriously? That sounds like a great sentimental rationalization, but the implementation of a ban means that people are OBLIGED to act a certain way. They no longer get to make a choice. Let’s not fool ourselves here.  The only sin left in contemporary culture is smoking, and the trendy, health-obsessed powers that be are ready to assert their dominance.

  12. Caity Kubicek
    May. 13, 2013 11:41 PM

    This plan has been in the works for many years, there has been numerous meetings and discussions on this topic. Many different people from different aspects of the University have had the chance to express their opinions on this plan. I have had the opportunity to be apart of multiple discussions on this particular topic, the thing that everyone needs to understand is this is for the benefit of the University as a whole. The University is made up of not only students but faculty and staff as well, I feel this is something students over look sometimes yes you may be living on campus, but your professor still comes to St. Thomas everyday, St. Thomas is just as much yours as it is his. Yes it is taking away someones right to smoke, but the University is NOT public property, if you want to be on “private” property you must abide by the rules that are put in place for the overall well being of the property. Cigarette bubs are not good for the grounds, inhaling secondhand smoke while you are simply trying to walk to class isn’t something I nor others like to experience everyday.

  13. Sam Olson
    May. 21, 2013 12:42 AM

    This is never going to work.

  14. Caitlin Heaney
    May. 25, 2013 10:08 PM

    As I commented on a previous article on this topic: why does anyone think that sending students out to smoke in a neighborhood full of people who already hate Saint Thomas students for being filthy and noisy would be a good idea? And I fully agree with the above comments about forcing students to stop smoking “because it will make them make a more healthy choice.” Are you going to come into the View next and tell me not to take a second piece of cake? How about telling me not to stay up late because it isn’t good for my health? This entire idea is, frankly, ridiculous, and just another way that Saint Thomas is falling in line with the frantic desire to be marketable. Please stop wasting my money having meetings about this.

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