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Published: Monday, 2/24/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

Student group protests proposed campus-wide smoking ban at University of Toledo

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A student group opposed to a campus-wide smoking ban being considered by the University of Toledo Board of Trustees handed out fake cigarettes and asked students to sign petitions in the Student Union today to protest the ban.

The group, which calls itself Young Americans for Liberty, plans to turn over the collected signatures to the university’s Student Government on Thursday, said Ron Johns, a member of Young Americans for Liberty. The goal is to make sure that students' voices are being heard, Mr. Johns said.

“It’s not really about smoking outside,” he said. “It’s about individual liberties. The government shouldn’t regulate it.”

University trustees are expected to discuss the smoking ban during a March 11 committee meeting, said Meghan Cunningham, spokesman for the university.

Student government representatives surveyed 5,000 students in October, 2013 and 60 percent said they supported the ban, according to Michael Peachock, 19, a member of student government who wrote the proposal to ban all smoking on campus.

During a very heated student government meeting last fall, the proposal was defeated by one vote. But President Emily Kramp and Vice President Lauren Jencen, who support the ban, pushed the issue forward despite the outcome of the group’s vote, Mr. Peachock said.

Miss Kramp, who is attending a conference, and Miss Jencen, could not be reached for comment.

Student Richard Haseltine, a member of Young Americans for Liberty, said the group had collected about 60 signatures earlier today.

“A lot of non-smokers signed it because they were opposed to how it was handled by Student Government,” Mr. Haseltine, 19, said. “I think if someone is doing something and it’s not hurting anyone else, they shouldn't be told what they can’t do.”

Those who support the smoking ban point out that second-hand smoke does hurt other people, and does have an adverse affect on non-smokers.

Faculty Senate also passed a resolution that the Main Campus should be tobacco free, and the University Council voted in support of a campus-wide ban on all tobacco products except for electronic cigarettes.

The University of Toledo’s Health Science Campus, the former Medical College of Ohio campus, went smoke-free and tobacco-free Jan. 1, 2008.

The Main Campus implemented a tobacco use policy Aug. 1, 2011 that permitted use in designated areas that are referred to as “smoking huts” and are located throughout campus. They resemble bus stop shelters. Previous policy prohibited smoking within 30 feet of doors and windows of campus buildings.

Mr. Peachock, who works as a resident advisor, says the smoking shelters are not safe. Since the 2013-14 school year began, he said at least three incidents have occurred at these facilities, including one stabbing, one armed robbery, and one fight, where a gun was drawn.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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