NIU Smoke-Free Campus Community Task Force meets for first time

A task force from the local and campus communities met for the first time Friday, Nov. 7, to discuss implementation of the Smoke Free Campus Act at Northern Illinois University.

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Smoke-Free Campus Task Force members met for the first time Nov. 7 after receiving their charge from NIU President Doug Baker.
The task force, chaired by Derryl Block, is charged with coordinating the implementation of the act with community and campus leaders.

In August, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to prohibit smoking on the campuses of all state-supported colleges and universities, effective July 1, 2015. The legislation applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces on campuses. Exceptions to the law are made for smoking inside privately owned vehicles parked on and traveling through campus and certain activities allowed under the Federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

“The Smoke-Free Campus Act provides us with a great opportunity to promote healthy life choices,” said Block, who is the dean of NIU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. “Working with partners across campus and the community will allow us to make smoking cessation resources available to those wishing to use the opportunity to quit smoking.”

Many tobacco cessation and prevention resources are available to NIU students and employees both on campus and in the community. These include Health Enhancement (753-9755), which provides smoking cessation coaching for students; Employee Assistance Program (753-9191); the DeKalb County Health Department; KishHealth System and the Illinois Dept. of Public Health, which operates the Illinois Tobacco Quitline (1-866-QUIT-YES).

The law also requires universities to establish a task force by December 31 in addition to communicating the prohibitions on smoking to all students and employees of state-supported institutions of higher education on or before May 1, 2015 and to each guest of a state-supported institution of higher education upon request.

At its September meeting, the Board of Trustees of NIU granted President Doug Baker the authority to establish the task force charged with carrying out the responsibilities required by the act. At this time, the task force includes the following members:

  • Jerry Blakemore vice president and General Counsel;
  • Derryl Block, dean, College of Health and Human Sciences (Chair);
  • Cindy Capek, assistant administrator, DeKalb County Health Department;
  • Ben Donovan, director of governmental affairs, NIU Student Association;
  • Deborah Haliczer, assistant vice president, Human Resources;
  • Eugene Hampton, community advisor and health promotion major from Springfield;
  • Jason John, sergeant, NIU Police Department;
  • Melissa McAvoy, community health educator, DeKalb County Health Department, and adjunct instructor at NIU;
  • Paul Palian, director, Media and Public Relations;
  • Donna Schoenfeld, director, NIU Health Enhancement; and
  • Melanie Tucker, assistant vice president, Student Affairs.

The university has had a no smoking policy in effect since 1999, which prohibits smoking in all university buildings—including private offices and other spaces previously exempted from no-smoking rules—and  eliminated all smoking lounges in university buildings.­

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