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Both Sides Air during Smoking Debate

While a UAS Student Government sponsored debate on the issue of smoking on the Juneau campus drew a small crowd, it was big on discussion.

Student Senator Scott Schuler sweeps up butts

Student Senator Scott Schuler sweeps up butts thrown on the floor by panelist Joan Cahill (L)  while Chancellor John Pugh speaks and Senator Dani Gifford looks on.

While a UAS Student Government sponsored debate on the issue of smoking on the Juneau campus drew a small crowd, it was big on discussion. The forum was held the evening of Tuesday, March 22 at the Student Rec Center. Calling smokers "unemployable drug addicts" UAS alum Joan Cahill argued for a total ban of smoking at UAS. Cahill, who works in human resources for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., warned students that the latest trend in human resources is beyond smoke free. "It’s now smoker free," she said.  Cahill said the proven negative effects of smoking on health makes smokers a costly liability for employers. Chancellor John Pugh noted that UAS is considering implementing a smoking cessation program as it deals with rising health care costs along with the rest of the UA system. The Chancellor is requesting that UAS community members stop smoking outside the Mourant cafeteria.  A designated smoking area outside the Egan Library bottom floor under the awning by the raven sculpture is being considered.

A designated smoking area is supported by Learning Center Director Hildegard Sellner who delivered a strong statement in support of continuing to allow smoking on campus. "Smoking in designated areas would reflect a freedom of choice at UAS," said Sellner. Also on the pro-smoking side of the debate was student Jarmyn Kramlich. "We have a compliance issue," said Kramlich. Reading from the student handbook, Kramlich noted that rules for no smoking fewer than 20 feet from doors and to clean up butts are not enforced. "If we’re not enforcing the rules already in place, how are we going to enforce a ban?"  he asked.  Kramlich and several students (during the open testimony period) pointed out that ashtrays are placed too close to doors for smokers to comply with the 20 feet rule.

Panelists debated before about a dozen old cigarette butts thrown on the floor by Cahill. She surprised the audience by emptying a wad of butts in front of the podium. "I just collected these less than five feet from the front door (of the REC center) on my way in this evening," said Cahill.

"We are creating community here," said student Travis Johnson. "Communities work together to come up with solutions." "If you are in a community, this is your home," said Chancellor Pugh. "You wouldn’t throw litter around your home." The Chancellor said the debate was a "good start" and vowed to help student government work towards a solution to a controversial campus issue.

 
 

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