By Dale Miller
In a rare unanimous action by Students’ Legislative Council, the Students’ Union passed a smoking policy on Tue., Sept. 14.
The policy states that the SU is committed to taking a leadership role in reducing smoking on campus and working with the city to hasten the city-wide smoking ban, however, there will be no changes in the way cigarettes are sold or where they can be consumed on campus.
“The policy is not going to affect the university that much,” said SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Greg Clayton. “The Den will be still be non-smoking by 2008 [when the city passes their own non-smoking bylaws].”
According to the SU, this policy is a response to the needs of students who choose not to smoke, as well as those who do. Essentially, the policy is a compromise between what the Smoke-Free U of C sub-committee wants–a complete smoking ban on campus–and what is economically feasible.
“This policy balances the role of the SU with the health of students,” said Clayton. “It also balances social responsibility with individual choice. The downside of making campus smoke-free is too big.”
Before this policy was passed, SLC heard presentations from both sides of the issue.
Joan McDonald from SFUC reiterated her committee’s stance on smoking, claiming it was a health issue not a money issue.
“We identified some key steps [the university should take],” said McDonald. “Prohibiting smoking on campus is one, another is to prohibit sales and marketing. We also want to prohibit acceptance of tobacco funding.”
On the other hand, SU Food, Beverage and Events Director Greg Stephenson explained what the SU would give up by banning smoking in the Den.
“The best case scenario is that everything goes on as it is. The worst-case scenario is that it would cost us three quarters of a million dollars a year and a loss of jobs,” commented Stephenson. “If you are not a busy night-club, you’re not a night-club.”
The policy also commits the SU to encouraging the university to enforce its current bylaws and participating in an annual smoking awareness event.