University students fearful of losing their ability to buy cigarettes on campus have just received their pardon from governors.
The Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors voted Thursday against a proposal from Boynton Healt Service’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use Taskforce to ban the sale of tobacco on campus.
Fifteen board members voted against the ban, one voted in favor, and one abstained.
University Board representatives brought feedback from students in their designated campus areas. While some students approved of the ban, representatives said students were more concerned with protecting their rights to choose whether or not they buy tobacco. Revenue issues were also a priority.
“We’ve heard feedback on both sides of the issue from students,” said board President Kristen Moore. “Some students were concerned with the health risks associated with smoking; others were concerned with taking away their choice to purchase tobacco.”
Health-conscious advocates from Boynton spoke to the board before the vote about why they felt the ban was important.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” said Gail Musolf, co-chairwoman of Boynton’s Student Health Advisory Committee.
Danielle Baker, Musolf’s fellow chairwoman, said she didn’t think the University was taking away students’ right to smoke.
Baker also said she and Musolf would encourage SHAC to write a proposal asking the Student Fees Committee to give TCSU more money per student if the board voted for the ban.
Rick Hay, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore, was among a few students who came to the meeting to voice concerns.
“It seems immoral to profit off the premature death of University students,” Hay said. “Choice isn’t an issue because they can still go off campus.”
Other students attending the meeting were content with the decision.
Nate Witkins came to the meeting not because he wanted to buy tobacco on campus, but because he feared an increase in student services fees to make up for lost revenue if the ban passed.
“Tobacco is a great revenue-maker; every bit counts,” Witkins said. “I worry they would cut programs to make up for the loss in revenue.”
Dana Dreikosen, a CLA junior, said she buys cigarettes on campus one or two times per week.
“I was concerned with the convenience of tobacco sales for students; I’m confident they made the correct decision,” Dreikosen said. “I think we have a right to choose. We’re adults by the time we get to college. An organization or group of people should not take away that right.”
Maggie Hessel-Mial welcomes comments at [email protected]