Smoking to be banned on Parkland campus

Peter Cowley
Staff Writer

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/MCT Cigarettes rank at the top of litter problems, for their ubiquity, toxicity and durability. Parkland College, in compliance with Illinois’ smoking ban on all state-supported schools, will switch to a smoke-free campus on July 1, 2015.

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/MCT
Cigarettes rank at the top of litter problems, for their ubiquity, toxicity and durability. Parkland College, in compliance with Illinois’ smoking ban on all state-supported schools, will switch to a smoke-free campus on July 1, 2015.

Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation on Aug. 17, 2014 to ban smoking on the campuses of all state-supported schools in Illinois, including the use of electronic cigarettes. On July 1, 2015, Parkland College will make the transition to a smoke-free campus, banning smoking on its school grounds.

Parkland’s Campus Smoking Policy Task Force has been pushing to make Parkland a Smoke-Free campus for approximately three years before the state passed the ban. The Parkland Student Government has been taking ideas and suggestions from students to make the transition.

“We were trying to create a new policy specifically for Parkland,” Vice President of Student Government Tara Welch said. “We had been throwing ideas around in the summer just to see if it would ever get picked up and noticed. A lot of our students transfer to the University of Illinois, so after seeing that they were able to pass a similar act, we thought it would be a great idea to follow.”

Welch is now working with the task force, making sure that things are handled with the utmost of care.

What the community of Parkland will be focusing on at this point is making sure that there is a period of time set aside for educating the community about the Smoke-Free act. These changes will have to be visible to the public, which relies on marketing in Public Relations and subcommittee in the task force that will focus on marketing the change.
“We are a couple steps ahead in the process,” John Eby, Community Education Program at Parkland stated. “What we need to do within the next few months is understand how we will address, in a respectful manner, the information for a smoke free campus to the community. The law states that the campus population (students, staff, faculty and administration) are responsible for educating everyone else.”

In a collection of general surveys and petitions, it shows that 73 percent of students asked said that there needed to be a change in Parkland’s smoking policies such as better designated smoking areas, and stronger laws for smoking near doors, but not necessarily a smoke free act. 66 percent of the same amount of students surveyed said that Parkland should be completely smoke free.

There is a demand from the majority of students for the Smoke-Free act that is coming to campus. Within the short time that is has been here, the new Student Union building has many littered cigarettes already decorating the grounds all around it, which is one of the many issues that the new ban will solve.

How will student smokers prepare for such an act? Smoking a cigarette is often affiliated with stress relief, which is something that many struggling college students need at some point in the day. People who start college are more inclined to smoke cigarettes, as most are going through large amounts of stress from day to day, meaning that college students can become addicted to cigarettes quite easily without proper help.

Since the Smoke-Free act has been passed, and will be put into effect in 2015, no one expects current smokers to simply quit, which is why the Wellness Center, located in U112, now has “Quit Kits” that will help cigarette smokers through the process of throwing away the carton.

“People have the right to make the decision of quitting on their own,” Wellness Coordinator June Burch explained. “Anyone who makes the decision to quit smoking is free to walk into the student wellness center and ask for a Quit Kit. There are ones that will get you through a week, and some that will get you through the day. I will be happy to accommodate anyone who chooses to quit smoking and requires help.”
These Quit Kits contain nicotine patches or gum that will help get a student through stressful times while also trying to quit smoking.
For more information on how you can quit smoking, visit the Wellness Center located in the Student Union, room 112.