Second smoking forum of semester present additional issues

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The aroma of hot cheese and bread filled students’ noses, but tobacco smoke was the topic on their minds.

Members of the Smoking Initiative panel held another forum on Monday Nov. 26 to entertain comments and questions from the Dixie State College student body about the initiative.  

Some students who attended the previous forum on Nov. 7 returned with questions and comments, but additional issues from others took the stage.

“People that smoke have a right to smoke,” said Scott Williamson, a senior history major from St. George. “If I want to pick up a cigarette and go to a designated spot, then that is my right.”

Other students didn’t think banning smoking was against people’s rights.

Jordan Mathis, the health promotion director at Southwest Utah Public Health Department, is helping with the initiative and addressed the legal side of the issue.

“There have been cases, over and over again, where [the Supreme Court] has upheld individual cases where an individual said they have the right to smoke,” Mathis said. “[The Supreme Court] upheld [smokers] had no constitutional right to smoke. Race and religion…are protected by the Constitution, but we can go through case studies and show where the Supreme Court has allowed restrictions on tobacco use.”  

Another issue was that the minority of students who smoke are not being represented correctly.

“There are a lot of classes recognized by the government, but smokers are not one of them,” said Joe Pate, a senior nursing major from Provo and former health-science senator. “As long as this [initiative] is directly related to government goals, as an agency of the state, it has a responsibility to protect the health, responsibility and well-being of its community.”

Some questioned how smoking would be enforced if the policy is enacted.

Pate said Dixie already has a smoking policy with penalties, but it is not being enforced. As for the details of enforcement of a smoke-free campus, the penalties and enforcement are in revision right now.

“I went to officer (Don) Reid and he assured us that enforcement is doable,” Pate said.

The initiative has some holes to fill.

“We are still investigating electronic cigarettes,” said Jimmy Seely, DSC Student Association health-science senator and a senior nursing major from Morgan. “The policy is still in revision. There are reasons for and against it.”

Brody Mikesell, a senior integrated studies major from Henefer and DSCSA president, said, “I’m not in support of the campus coming completely 100 percent smoke-free, but I am in support of what this panel is doing.”

Mikesell said the panel needs students who represent both sides.

“If any of you are interested in being part of this group, then these guys are open to it,” he said. “They would love the insight and [to know] what areas they need to work on. If we can get some smokers on board with this, then we can set a precedence on how to do this correctly.”

Students can find the senators or Mikesell in their offices located in the student government room on the second floor of the Gardner Center.