DePaul up in smoke from failure to enforce cigarette city ordinance

Smoking on DePaul's campuses is very common among students. The city ordinance mandates the areas of smoking. (Matt Rourke | AP)
Smoking on DePaul’s campuses is very common among students. The city ordinance mandates the areas of smoking. (Matt Rourke | AP)

It has happened to all of us at one point in our academic careers at DePaul. While trying to enter the SAC, students are often unable to walk to their classes because of cigarette smoke in front of what is supposed to be a fresh air zone.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed more than 14,000 students at 119 colleges nationwide. Asking them to report on their lifetime use of tobacco, one-third of those students reported that they smoke.

This statistic is staggering. Fr. Edward Udovic, secretary of DePaul, discussed the smoking policy on campus, and what could be implemented for DePaul to enforce stricter rules on smoking.

“City ordinance is what mandates the area of smoking,” he said. “The Arts and Letters Hall is obviously one of these areas, and students gather there before classes. Students caught smoking within 15 feet or less of the building are in violation of the 15-foot ordinance that has been mandated by the city of Chicago for all academic buildings.”

Despite this fact, many students ignore this city ordinance. Udovic said he wants to propose some possible solutions to         this problem.

“On university property, we could be more stringent, but sidewalks are public property. There should be a mandate to legislate a 20-foot no-smoke zone, and to strictly enforce the 15-foot policy,” he said.

With signs posted on academic buildings, it’s evident that DePaul is trying to prevent smoking from occurring outside the mandated area.

“In Chicago, there is a policy citywide that schools are required to post signs and make them visible,” DePaul senior Dan         Olsen said.

However, students who are avid smokers need to make an effort to be more conscious and considerate of those around them.

“It’s hard to have a security officer there to mandate the signage on buildings,” Udovic said about enforcing the 15-foot no-smoking policy. “Having a public safety officer constantly on guard 24/7 just wouldn’t be feasible. It’s the students’ and faculty’s responsibility to be more courteous toward each other.”

Everyone has the right to a clean campus environment, and I do not want my health jeopardized by secondhand smoke. We have the right to clean air and a smoke-free environment. It is not feasible to legislate an area for smoking because there is so much public property near by. A 15-foot mandate will not contain the smoke in an enclosed space. Smoke travels, bringing its putrid smell with it.

Second-year DePaul student Rachel Wassaf said she cuts through The Quad as an alternative route to class to alleviate the smell of cigarette smoke

“It is bad in front of the Arts and Letters Hall,” she said.

Another route is to utilize the library and the SAC link.

This situation is easily fixable. However, the students and administration must first take it seriously. University legislation needs to mandate and enforce the citywide academic ordinance, which mandates where students are permitted to smoke. Smokers in violation of the city ordinance should be held accountable by a fine. Those who do not smoke should not have to be subject to inhaling dirty, secondhand smoke, and this campus issue should no longer be ignored.