Columbia City Council voted Oct. 6 to give MU the rights to extend its smoking ban to certain city streets on campus.
This is the next step in a timeline designed to eliminate smoking on campus. In July 2011, MU revised its policy so that smoking would only be allowed in designated areas. On July 1, 2013, smoking was banned everywhere on campus.
However, there have been exceptions. Parts of Conley Road, Hitt, Ninth and Rollins streets are labeled as “city streets” and were previously not under MU’s non-smoking permit.
Wellness Resource Coordinator Tiffany Bowman said she has worked closely with the student-led movement to ban smoking on campus, launched by MSA in 2009. Bowman said the policy may not work 100 percent of the time, but there have been vast improvements.
“The idea came from the students,” Bowman said. “They were the ones who wanted to see a reduction of smoking on campus. The new regulations make the rules more consistent and fair.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States spends more than $298 billion a year, including $133 billion in adult medical care and $156 billion in lost productivity, as a result of smoking.
Bowman said making the policy uniform all across campus eliminates any confusion about where one can and cannot smoke.
Despite the movement’s success, some students oppose the idea of a smoke-free campus. MU senior Jeffrey Militzer said he thinks it is ridiculous people cannot smoke on campus, let alone on city-owned streets.
“This looks like it’s a slippery slope when they ban it on campus, then they will go ahead and ban it downtown, then all of Columbia,” he said. “I’m not littering. If you can do it without trashing the place, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Columbia City Council is currently considering a measure, proposed by First Ward councilwoman Ginny Chadwick, that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco in Columbia to 21. Additionally, the measure would ban electronic cigarettes indoors.
“Tobacco is the leading cause of death in the nation,” Chadwick said in a Sept. 24 Maneater article. “It’ll kill about 7,500 Columbians.”
Columbia might be new to the smoke-free environment, but Bowman said long-term benefits should be expected.
“If there is less smoking happening on campus, then less people will come to MU and smoke,” she said. “That’s better for people’s health and the campus as a whole.”