Students hoping to grab a quick cigarette break between classes will no longer have that option as Louisiana Senate Bill 36, prohibiting smoking on University of Louisiana System campuses as well as LSU, Southern University and public community colleges, goes into effect by August 2014.
Current Southeastern smoking policies require students smoke in designated areas but do not prohibit smoking while walking between classes and do not penalize students who smoke in non-smoking areas. Smoking areas, according to the Smoking Policies section of the Southeastern website, include the back entrance of D Vickers Hall, the east side of Fayard Hall, the north side of Garrett Hall and the north side of Sims Memorial Library. All other areas on campus are marked with No Smoking signs in an attempt to “reduce litter, address health problems and alleviate physical reactions by those susceptible to second-hand smoke,” according to the website.
SB36 was proposed by Sen. David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, who stated in an interview with NOLA.com he proposed SB36 as well as SB 35, a bill designed to alleviate diabetes-related illnesses in Louisiana, were a result of “the state’s low ranking in a national recent healthcare analysis, which identified smoking and diabetes as the leading causes of death in the state.”
Joe Burns, a professor in the Communications department at Southeastern, said in an interview “Legislation should be written based on scientific fact, not on someone’s dislike of another person’s habits. There’s next to no research showing a link between second hand smoke (especially smoke outdoors) and cancer risk. The only real link is a person that lives with a smoker – confined area. There’s is far more risk of carcinogens coming from the buses now rolling through the campuses,” Burns said. “I’m sorry you dislike the smell of smoke but there are designated smoking areas and you should avoid them if you don’t like it. However – if we’re going to write laws and pass legislation on what people don’t like then fine – I’m not a fan [of] the perfume you’re wearing…or the shampoo you use…or the soap you use. When you come on this campus I expect you to be wearing no perfume and to have used a shampoo and a soap that have no fragrances. They bother me. I might go as far as to say they upset my allergies. Please don’t tell me to just avoid you. That argument didn’t fly with the smokers. Why should it fly with the smells that bother me?”
Lance Felps, a senior nursing major, said “I think everyone on college campuses are adults-or should be anyway-and we should be able to make up our own minds about where to walk and such in order to avoid smoke. That being said, you can’t avoid cigarette smoke entirely because there will always be someone smoking while you’re walking behind them or in other instances of life so this whole “ban on smoking” thing is really pretty stupid.”
SB36 was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal June 6, 2013 after passing in the Louisiana Senate with 31 yeas, three nays and five members absent. The bill passed unanimously in the House with 97 yeas.