Once upon a time—although not necessarily the good ol’ days—Ambrose students and professors alike were free to smoke almost anywhere on campus: in their rooms and offices, the cafeteria and library, even the classroom, where ashtrays were standard issue along with chalk and erasers.
Today, smoking—particularly second-hand smoke—has become Public Health Issue No. 1. In fact, recent Iowa legislation will outlaw smoking in most public places and workplaces July 1. And while smoking already is banned inside St. Ambrose facilities, making the entire campus smoke-free is getting due consideration in a typically Ambrosian way.
“We’re coming at this issue from the standpoint of mutual respect,” says Tim Phillips, dean of students and chair of the task force—composed of non-, current- and ex-smokers—appointed by Sister Joan Lescinski to establish a plan for carrying out the decision of her predecessor to make St. Ambrose smoke-free within the year. “We want to assure an environment where people can be free from second-hand smoke while respecting the personal choice of those who wish to smoke,” along with encouraging the greatest level of personal health and respect for the university’s neighbors.
The tobacco-free policy developed by the task force, which is expected to be present to the president and university officers and adopted within the next few months, would limit tobacco use to the campus’ perimeter, with a phased-in implementation compliant with state law.
“I am very appreciative of the great work Tim and the task force have done developing this policy, which ensures St. Ambrose’s active participation in addressing this public health issue across the state and the entire nation,” Lescinski says.
Once the policy is implemented, St. Ambrose will in fact join more than 100 college campuses that have gone smoke-free, including such Iowa institutions as Des Moines University, Graceland University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, and University of Iowa.
Most of all, Phillips says,“We hope the spirit of the policy will encourage respectful compliance—of smokers thinking, ‘People are respectful of my choice, so I’ll own my responsibility to smoke in the appropriate designated areas and dispose of materials appropriately.’”