After several failed attempts to ban the sale of cigarettes on campus, representatives from Student Health Service are now trying to compromise with the UCen Governance Board to discourage students from smoking.
Representatives from Student Health suggested a series of intermediate steps designed to decrease the sale of cigarettes on campus at a Governance Board meeting Thursday, including removing all tobacco advertising, distributing anti-smoking literature and requiring smokers to stay 20 feet away from buildings.
The proposed steps still need to be voted on by the Governance Board, which has debated the issue of the on-campus sale of cigarettes for the last two years. UCSB is the only UC other than Riverside that sells cigarettes, which are available at the Corner Store, the Arbor and at Buchanan Store.
Two years ago, Associated Students Legislative Council placed a plebiscite on the spring ballot asking students their opinion about cigarette sales on campus. A 55 percent majority said they did not think cigarettes should be sold on campus. Leg Council then passed a position paper asking the Governance Board to ban cigarette sales on campus. To date, the Governance Board has not changed their policies.
UCen Governance Board member Alan Kirby challenged Student Health’s proposal and said it violates the free choice of students.
“How do you reconcile the notion of your proposing that you are telling people who are legally of age what they should and should not buy,” he said. “The university sells what people buy.”
Judy Hearsum, the director of the Alcohol and Other Drug Program, and other opponents of cigarette sales said that the health of students is the important issue, not freedom of choice, because of secondhand smoke.
“Cigarettes kill more people every year than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, the list goes on and on,” Hearsum said. “It’s not so much a matter of free choice, of whether they want to smoke or not, because they’re affecting other people.”
Student Health is proposing that some form of literature, most likely a sticker attached to packs of cigarettes, accompany each purchase with information on how to quit smoking or places to go for help.
Despite the debate, many steps have been taken to appease Student Health advocates and to provide a more comfortable atmosphere for nonsmokers. UCen Dining Services Director Sue Hawkins said 90 percent of outdoor eating areas are on their way to be designated as nonsmoking areas. Also, recently, efforts have been made to take down tobacco advertisements and to remove cigarettes from view.
Representatives at the meeting expressed their concern for the message the campus is sending through its sale of cigarettes.
“It’s my feeling that the university should not be profiting from something that kills,” said Katherine Thomson, educator and tobacco cessation coordinator at Student Health. “Former research has shown that if cigarettes are made available, people are more likely to smoke them. There’s also the secondhand smoke issue.”