All public colleges in Illinois are required to be smoke free by July 1 so Western Illinois University assembled a 20 person task force to update its smoking policy. Smoking is currently prohibited inside buildings and within 50 feet of entrances at WIU.
Darcie Shinberger, Assistant Vice President for Advancement & Public Services, is part of the task force. She said the group is meeting on a bi-weekly basis to decide how to publicize the ban and enforce it with students, faculty, and visitors. In addition, the task force must determine how to penalize violators.
The state law also bans E-Cigarettes. “I do know they were added to this policy because they emit, well it’s not smoke, there is a vapor,” Shinberger said.
Shinberger said smoking will still be allowed on the few city sidewalks that cut through campus.
“An example would be the sidewalk in front of Sherman Hall. The Adams Street sidewalk is a public sidewalk. But what I call the internal campus itself is smoke free,” Shinberger said.
The state law does permit smoking in non-university vehicles. But Shinberger said Western has not decided yet whether to allow it.
Western does not have any information regarding how many students, staff, or visitors the smoking ban will impact. The school's employment and enrollment applications do not ask applicants to disclose if they smoke. Shinberger said there is some question over whether the ban will deter people from wanting to work at Western or attend the university.
“There’s always that concern and that thought. But if it’s a state mandate and a state law, it’s something we have to certainly implement. But then again, I think, it might attract those students and those faculty and staff that are not smokers and would appreciate a campus that is smoke free,” Shinberger said.
The task force is also exploring what incentives can be provided to staff and students wanting to quit smoking as a result of the ban. Currently, students are eligible to purchase Nicorette and the patch at a discounted cost through the Beau Health Center.