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The Mostly Smoke-Free Campus

By: Marybeth Beitzel, Copy Editor  (mbbeitz90@gmail.com)

As the Fall 2013 semester commences, UIC has swung open her doors and welcomed in the student body to the officially smoke-free campus. Or, mostly smoke-free campus. Since the official implementation of this ordinance the amount of smoking on campus has significantly decreased; pods of smokers have begun gathering on the corners of campus in locations quickly becoming the unofficial smoking areas.

But what is it that’s causing these smokers to light up off the common areas? Despite there being no sign of repercussions for any lingering smokers, some students fear being the first to be ticketed. Yet, not everyone is worried about punishment. One student says her reason for smoking off-campus is simply respect. “I understand that a lot of people don’t like smoking and that second-hand smoke is dangerous,“ she explained while smoking on one of the benches west of the library.

The result of the smoking ban has had some unexpected consequences. This shaded area comprised of a circle of benches has become a sort of refuge for UIC’s smokers; the “smoking ghetto” as referred to by this regular. When once smokers spread throughout campus, they now compile together, forming a misfit toys community, and have managed to claim this gathering of benches as one of their safe places. This unspoken smoke-friendly area creates a relaxed environment for smokers to enjoy their break without feeling the disapproval of others. While also turning into a venue for discussion, debate, and support among newly made acquaintances.

Though a walk through campus may still bring in a hazy breath from one of the remnant smokers strolling with cigarette in hand, perhaps we should all be grateful for UIC’s new policy, smokers and non-smokers alike.

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