ASUA Senate votes against tobacco-free campus resolution
Cecilia Alvarez / The Daily Wildcat
ASUA Vice President Danielle Novelly finalizes the vote count in order to decline the motion to ban smoking on campus on Wednesday.
A majority of the ASUA Senate voted against a resolution in support of a tobacco-free campus on Wednesday, putting it at odds with its president, as well as the Student Health Advocacy Committee.
Five Associated Students of the University of Arizona senators voted against the resolution, which would support a plan created by SHAC. Two voted in favor of the resolution, and one abstained.
The goal of the resolution was to support a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable campus for everyone who works at and attends the university, according to the plan proposed by SHAC. The resolution also includes a 12- to 18-month transition period to make the UA community aware of the change, and offers free resources for those who want to quit smoking, such as counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, outreach and education.
Although the vote on the resolution did not determine whether or not tobacco use will be banned on campus, the senate represents the student body in its vote. The Faculty Senate will take this vote into account when discussing whether to make the UA a tobacco-free campus later in the semester, according to Sen. Grant Suman.
During the meeting, ASUA senators discussed a survey that was issued through UA Campus Health to more than 2,000 students in 2012, asking whether they would support a plan to make the UA tobacco-free. The survey found that 70.2 percent said they support the plan, while the other almost 30 percent said they oppose the plan or are indifferent.
“It was definitely frustrating seeing the senate kind of ignore [the survey’s results] and do what they think is best, instead of what the student body has clearly stated,” ASUA President Morgan Abraham said.
Before voting, some senators advised the Senate to consider the other 30 percent of the student body. Suman said he didn’t think the plan’s policy was in line with its mission, and that he believed banning tobacco from campus would push people away from the resources they’re being offered to quit smoking.
“But if you’re advertising on campus,” Suman said, “those smokers aren’t really smoking on campus. They’re not using their tobacco products on campus.”
Instead, Suman proposed alternatives, such as designated smoking areas where smokers could be targeted with advertising for resources to quit.
Despite the vote, Abraham said the resolution will continue to be discussed within ASUA.
“We’re still going to be holding forums on this and kind of getting students involved and rallied up and giving them the opportunity to speak their voice,” Abraham said. “What we do in the future as far as [the] senate is concerned, I’m not quite sure, but this is not a dead issue by any means.”
Stephanie Kha, director of the SHAC and a biochemistry junior, said this decision will not deter the committee from moving forward withits plan.
“If we don’t advocate for [banning] all tobacco-containing products not approved by the [Food and Drug Administration], then we are not setting the leading example that we should be for everyone’s health,” Kha said. “We sincerely care about everyone’s health.”
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