NIU, state universities to become smoke-free in 2015

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to prohibit smoking on the campuses of all state-supported colleges and universities Sunday morning. The smoking ban takes effect July 1, 2015 and applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces on campuses.

“Illinois’ college students shouldn’t be subject to unwanted cigarette smoke on the campuses they call home,” Governor Quinn said. “We want all schools to be healthy, clean and productive places of learning for Illinois’ bright young minds. This new law will improve the health of our students and encourage healthier lifestyles after college graduation.”

Northern Illinois University will be forming a community task force this fall to coordinate the implementation of the the Smoke Free Campus Act.

Senate Bill 2202, sponsored by State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) and State Representative Ann Williams (D-Chicago), created the Smoke Free Campus Act that prohibits all smoking on state-supported college and university campuses in Illinois beginning July 1, 2015.

“Smoke free policies have been proven to result in lower smoking prevalence rates. That’s one of the many reasons the American Lung Association is proud to have worked alongside state legislators on the Smoke Free Campus Act,” American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest CEO Lew Bartfield said. “In addition, the new law will provide a healthy learning environment that promotes health and wellness for students, faculty, staff and visitors at all public colleges and universities in Illinois. The law not only minimizes toxic secondhand smoke exposure but also improves the campus environment by reducing smoking related litter.”

“Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “Smoke-free campuses make it more difficult for students and staff to smoke, thereby decreasing the number of people who smoke, and reducing the number of people who start.”

Exceptions to the law are made for smoking inside privately owned vehicles traveling through campus and certain activities allowed under the Federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act. A companion bill signed Sunday by Governor Quinn, House Bill 3961, allows smoking on campus inside parked, non-state-owned vehicles.

Other states with colleges and universities that have 100 percent smoke-free policies include: California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“A college education can put people ahead in life, but smoking can do just the opposite,” Senator Link said. “This new law will clear the air on campuses statewide and help produce healthier graduates.”

“This is a continuation of the efforts of Smoke Free Illinois to protect Illinoisans from the very significant danger of secondhand smoke,” Representative Williams said. “This initiative will extend important public health protections to those studying, working and living at our public college and university campuses.”

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