by Dariel Chaidez
North Park University continues to pave the way to the future every year and the 2016-2017 school year is no different. University administration implemented a new smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy on Aug. 8. The new policy entails that all members of North Park - including students, faculty, staff, and visitors - abstain from using tobacco and smoking products on all campus property, including outdoor spaces, residence halls, and parking lots. The banned products include but are not limited to cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, hookah, and vaping products.
This measure was taken by the University Administration to ensure that all students receive all health-related benefits of a smoke-free campus. Vice president of student engagement, Dr. Jodi Koslow Martin, signaled the beginning of the transition to a smoke-free campus in an email, where she stated: “[The policy was created to] embrace holistic wellness. Many universities are smoke-free and it is best practice to create learning spaces that are healthy.”
This change came about from within the North Park community itself, as students voiced their opinions of what they want their learning environment to be. According to Koslow Martin: “I care where our students are going. The Johnson Center has changed how students live on campus and smoking patterns have changed and in some places have become more evident.” These recent structural changes to campus have prompted administration to respond to the ways students get to and from class.
The advantage of the new policy is obvious to most: health. From stories of lung cancer patients to raspy-voiced commercials of smokers urging people to quit, the risks of the practice are apparent. Second year student Jomarie Perlas responded to the policy saying: “Making NPU a smoke-free campus can be a positive thing; it is. It means 'thank you, for not speeding up the rapidly progressing death of my lungs, her lungs, their lungs, our lungs. Thank you.'" This sentiment is shared by most of the non-smoking population at North Park affected by secondhand smoke. People who have never taken a puff of smoke in their life, but have been in close contact with someone who does smoke, report the effects of tobacco use such as many types of cancer and even death. Should non-smokers have to put up with the actions of smokers? This controversy, though exhausted, is still very relevant.
People in disagreement with the policy cling to the argument that they have the right to do as they please with their own bodies. This is nothing new; people have been going back and forth on this aspect of the smoking debate for years, making it the controversial subject that it has become.
To enforce the smoke- and tobacco-free policy, new signage will be employed across campus. The goal of the initiative as stated by Koslow Martin is “not intended for people to be sanctioned, enforcement will come from education.” When asked how NPU can continue to create a safe, healthy environment, Jomarie Perlas thinks: “It’s a process and needs a plethora of time, but sometimes it’s about taking three steps forward, and two steps back. Transparency and gently enforcing compliance with regulations can be a start.”
But what does this mean for North Park? Where will this new policy take us and how will we get there? North Park is a place of learning, not only for the mind but also for the body and soul. The no-smoking protocol is designed to help college students in a part of our lives that many of us constantly overlook. According to Koslow Martin, it is to help us “be well to do well.”