With the new semester has come a renewed push to make LSU a tobacco and smoke-free campus.
Current policy requires people to smoke 25 feet away from the entrance to any campus building.
Heading the effort to snuff out smoking is Judith Sylvester, an LSU mass communication professor.
Supporters of the movement are circulating petitions seeking to have the Baton Rouge campus declared smoke-free.
On a recent day, Sylvester hoisted two-gallon Ziploc bags packed with cigarette butts and thrust them toward the students in LSU’s Journalism Building. The stench of tobacco was discernible from several feet away.
As students murmured, “that’s so gross,” Sylvester said the cigarettes were gathered within an hour in front of LSU’s Middleton Library.
Sylvester’s supporters gathered to sign the petition and also to view a webcast detailing the University of Michigan’s Tobacco-free College Campus Initiative.
Mary Sue Coleman, chancellor of the smoke-free Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, offered guidance on how advocacy groups should work to eliminate tobacco use at LSU. A critical factor, she said, is for faculty and students to create a discussion environment inclusive of all voices and interests on the campus.
“When we made the decision to go smoke-free, we were very deliberate and very methodical,” Coleman said.
Sylvester said she has been urging LSU administrators for years to make campus smoke-free, so far with little success. “Every time we’ve hit the administration with this it’s ‘how are you going to enforce it and how are you going to pay for it?’ “
LSU junior Michael Alford said he doesn’t smoke much but when he does, it’s to relieve stress. Alford said a smoke-free campus “would really suck. I’ll bet a lot of faculty don’t like it because I totally see professors smoking all the time.”
However, broadcast journalism sophomore Bene Vincent, Sylvester’s work-study assistant, is passionate about making LSU smoke-free because of the potential health hazards of second-hand smoke.
Vincent said she avoids Middleton Library and the LSU Student Union because there are so many smokers.
“It’s frustrating. I do get annoyed when I walk around campus and there are smokers. We have a beautiful campus and I want to keep that as much as possible,” she said.