By Lauren Offner
One controversial issue that has resurfaced is the University of Wisconsin–Stout’s tobacco ban that became effective in 2010. Students and pedestrians are not allowed to light up on campus grounds without the possibility of receiving fines that could put a dent in the average student’s wallet. While many are appreciative of the thought of clean air, some students and campus organizations have concerns about whether the ban is working and how to keep the campus clean from the littering of cigarette butts.
Originally, the smoking ban didn’t pass unanimously in the Stout Student Association. However, the majority approved the decision and along with the ban was the removal of the ashtrays on campus where students could extinguish their cigarettes. Although the administration and SSA believe that smoking on campus has decreased in the last three years, there’s still a noticeable amount of litter throughout the grounds. Students are still smoking because, frankly, it’s hard to quit.
The sustainability organization, GreenSense, is looking to join with the city of Menomonie to create a teracycle program to find a place to dispose of the cigarette butts off campus. The butts would then be recycled into some other product. However, they’ve been met with some hesitation on the project and no decision has been made at this point.
SSA has also started coming up with ideas to further improve the situation. There were talks to create designated smoking areas for students within a safe distance from building entrances and walkways. In order for this to happen, they would have to vote on repealing the ban. This idea has not been well accepted by the administration. Current SSA President Juliana Lucchesi has her own opinion on the matter.
“It’s not illegal to smoke,” she said, “but I do appreciate the lack of secondhand smoke. If they do implement designated areas it has to be a respectable distance from main walkways and entrances. That’s the main reason we went to a tobacco freeze.”
Since both the administration and SSA are in a transition for the year, it’s hard to say when a decision will be made about the smoking issue. In the meantime, students will have to get used to the sight of cigarette butts left around campus and, in some cases, secondhand smoke.