Illinois Senate Committee approves smoke-free campuses

By WEEK Producer

March 21, 2013 Updated Mar 21, 2013 at 6:48 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Smokers could see their already limited rights outright banned on public college campuses and universities next year.

An Illinois Senate committee has approved a proposal that would prohibit smoking anywhere on campus.

Illinois Central College, like many colleges and universities around the state, has a smoke free campus with designated places where smokers can light up.

If the full legislature gets its way, smoking anywhere on public colleges, including in vehicles parked on campus, could be prohibited. ICC Vice president Bruce Budde said enforcing the policy would not be easy.

"We'd spend more time enforcing the parking lot and that type of issue and the concern would be does that take away from our real concern about serving the general public safety in our buildings and outlying areas," said Budde.

Budde said ICC tried restricting smoking to vehicles a few years ago but, with 3,000 cars parked in several lots, they found it too difficult.

He said now, with five designated smoking spaces, security issued fewer tickets this year compared to last year.

The proposal is receiving a mixed response from students.

"I think it's it's ridiculous," said J.D. Hatton. "I think it's just another way for them to try to take control over everything."

"I guess it's not a bad idea," said Krystle Brown. "It would essentially make people a lot more healthier, but then again it's kind of bad for the people who are smokers when they get stressed. But if they can't smoke anywhere at all it looks kind of bad."

"I feel it's wrong," said Derrick Duncan. "I don't think they should ban it because like they have areas the smokers can go to so it really doesn't bother me"

Bruce Budde said ICC would work to enforce whatever policy the state legislature approves. However, he said with many different layouts on college campuses around the state, schools would need to hire more security to enforce the policy.