U should not profit from tobacco sales

The Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors will have the upcoming opportunity to make the University a slightly healthier place. In mid-December, the board will be considering a recommendation that will cease all tobacco sales at the University.
The decision would halt the sale of tobacco products at the only two locations on campus still selling them, the West Bank Skyway Store and the St. Paul Student Center. The recommendation was originally drafted last Tuesday by the Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee. Even though the committee believes, and rightly so, that banning tobacco sales will not necessarily have a significant effect on student smoking habits, they unanimously agreed to support it, no doubt seeing the message it would send.
Twin Cities Student Unions associate director Denny Olsen acknowledged they net about $30,000 annually from tobacco sales and another $30,000 from other items bought while buying tobacco products. The board’s president Lance Patrick recognizes that if the ban is passed the $60,000 in lost revenue must come from another source. Patrick relates the board has already begun discussions about tobacco sales and expects the issue to be discussed at length, looking at both sides after they receive the formal recommendation from the Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee.
The ban may not do much in preventing or stopping smoking on campus, but it displays a worthy position on the part of the University. Though the University will not be directly selling tobacco, there are still plenty of places around campus for students to buy tobacco products. The people opposed to the plan complain students are adults and it’s their choice if they want to smoke or chew tobacco. True, it is their own choice, and Harvard Market and the bars at Seven Corners are more than happy to comply with that choice. The University, though, is not required to comply so easily.
The University as an educational institution does not need to endorse tobacco use. Currently, it does not directly promote its use through advertisement, tobacco products are kept behind the counter and customers are carded. However, by profiting from its sale, they are not taking a very strong stand against tobacco and appear to be putting profits above the health of University students.
As a home for Research Center, it seems contradictory that the University would be creating its own lung and throat cancer research subjects. As a leader in cancer research, the University should acknowledge the harmful effects of tobacco use and should not promote it on campus.
Also, the University may not be making an overall profit from tobacco sales. Despite the $60,000 that the student unions make, the health insurance that the University provides, in addition to the services provided by Boynton could mean the University is paying a high amount to treat tobacco related illnesses. The University should take a more preventative role in the health of their students. The administration took the first step in 1992 when they banned smoking in campus buildings. It is now time for them to take the next logical step and stop selling tobacco products.