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Students vote on campus smoking ban

By Shannon Ballard 6:23 AM April 9, 2014

A campus vote may lead to University of Alaska Anchorage leaders banning cigarettes for good.

Students are taking their opinion to the ballot box.

Senior Wesley Rabung wants cigarettes eliminated from campus. He’s a leader in the group Smoke-Free UAA, an organization of student advocates pushing for their school to be the first in Alaska to kick its smoking habit.

“When I walk outside in between classes I want to be able to breath clean air. I don’t want to walk through people’s smoke,” Rabung said. “I don’t want to be subject to that at a public university.”

According to a survey done by faculty members, almost 80 percent of students at UAA don’t smoke and 75 percent support a smoke-free campus.

“The smell of cigarettes just kills me. I’m not into it at all,” said freshman Mahammad Jobarteh.

Sophomore Daniel Jost is opposed to the ban. He said not allowing smoking sends a dangerous message.

“On a campus like UAA, I think a better policy is an approach of inclusion and support for those individuals rather than a policy of exclusion,” Jost said. “It’s sending out a message that those who are smokers are not welcome here.”

Ultimately, the decision isn’t up to students.

“The big purpose of this vote is to let the chancellor know what’s going on and what the students’ opinion is,” Rabung said.  “At the end of the day, it’s his decision.”

Voting results will be sent to the chancellor and entire UAA staff for consideration. No matter which way they vote, the goal is to have student voices heard.

Voting ends April 9.

Before any changes to UAA’s smoking policy can be made, the school says there needs to be more information on how a smoke-free campus would impact faculty and staff as well.

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