Future Tobacco Ban Not Final

Several senators in the Student Government Association spoke out against the possible future buy cigarettes ban on campus Thursday night in the presence of University of Memphis President Shirley Raines and Vice President of Student Affairs Rosie Bingham.

At the meeting, junior SGA senator Russell Born put forward a resolution that suggested The University of Memphis utilize designated smoking cigarettes areas in places of low foot traffic on campus in lieu of the complete ban of tobacco.

The resolution passed with an overwhelming majority. One senator in particular, sophomore Nick Mastron, was in favor of the measure. He gave a lengthy speech to the other senators before the vote.

"This resolution, as opposed to the July ban on smoking cigarettes, would progress rather than regress our University," he said in his speech. "… The students have spoken against the ban and have said that they would support this measure."

In his announcement, Mastron mentioned that The University wouldn't consider banning fatty food for the sake of healthier students. He also said the ban may inadvertently increase tuition if a significant number of smoking cigarettes students transfer out of The University or don't choose The U of M because of the ban.

Raines said the cigarettes ban is an option being considered and is not a finalized policy at The U of M. She said that some policy in favor of a healthier community will be made.

"The University is open to looking at alternatives. We haven't decided a policy. Of course we are open (to suggestions) while a policy is still under review," Raines said.

Bingham noted that the SGA originally suggested the option of no tobacco on campus two years ago. Mastron, however, said he feels the revised resolution is in favor of current students' interest while still paying attention to students' health.

"This resolution allows for both a promotion of better public health by decreasing the spreading of secondhand smoke, as well as an ability to choose one's own well-being – a freedom of expression," he said in his speech.

Raines said her goal for The University is to promote better health, but she feels designated smoking cigarettes areas would demonstrate an interest in a healthier University.

"I am in favor of a healthier University campaign. I don't want people to smoke, but I'm still open to what the policy might be," she said. "I would hope that we would make smoking cigarettes cessation classes available, just as I am concerned about so many people having weight issues and making sure we have healthy alternatives for dieting on campus."

Born, a political science major, said the main incentive of writing the resolution for him was standing up for adults' rights.

"I feel that if someone is over the age of 18, it is not The University's place to tell them what they can and can not do, as long as it is not hurting others or hurting society," he said.

Raines addressed the complaint of someone's right to smoke cigarettes at the meeting.

"It is anyone's right to smoke, but it's not anyone's right to smoke cigarettes anywhere," Raines said. "So that becomes what the issue is just as airports that have certain rooms to go to (to smoke) and designated places outside of courtrooms or any area. I think we'd go along with what society does, but how far we go is what is being discussed."

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