Thursday, September 01, 2005

Where there's Smoke...


I'm doing a press conference this morning calling for a ban on smoking in university housing in Illinois. The bad news is that smoking is one of the leading causes of fires in student housing. Plus, given what we know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, it's hard to justify requiring students to live in an environment that we know to be unsafe. The good news is that most Illinois universities already have the ban in effect. Some notable exceptions are the University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, and Eastern Illinois. Lisa Donovan has a story on the bill in today's Sun-Times.

This is as much a public safety issue as it is a public health issue. And while the bill won't be heard until the next session, I'm announcing it now to increase awareness and caution as students around the state are returning to school.

25 Comments:

At September 1, 2005 at 9:30 AM, Blogger drone1047 said...

Sounds like good common sense to me. But how would it be enforced? And who is going to oppose it? Big tobacco, I suppose, but more interestingly, what is their chief argument to maintain the status quo going to be?

 
At September 1, 2005 at 10:05 AM, Blogger IlliniPundit said...

Why don't you just introduce a bill to outlaw smoking? Why the constant incrementalism?

 
At September 1, 2005 at 10:20 AM, Blogger JohnGalt said...

Why do we allow smoking in privately owned homes that have children residents?

Don't they deserve government protection from such health and safety risks, too?

 
At September 1, 2005 at 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John-

Your proposal will exempt Emil Jones College, er, I mean Chicago State University, right?

 
At September 1, 2005 at 10:45 AM, Blogger ndpotus said...

State Rep Fritchey,

I am the VP of Legislative Affairs for the IL Fed of College Dems, please send me the info on your bill. We would love to help out...

Thanks and good luck...

--NICK

 
At September 1, 2005 at 11:18 AM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Hats off to you, Rep. Fritchey.
Mr. Galt, such a ban, while desirable, would be much more difficult to enforce.
Anonymous 10:04 is being juvenile.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 11:20 AM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Anon 10:37, Does that make UIUC Tim Johnson U? Or Winkel U? If you're going to be critical of appropriations for higher education, which you, apparently, deem excessive, you may as well be consistent.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 11:28 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Illini -

First off, I don't think a ban has any chance of passage at this point. Secondly, it's hard to justify banning one unhealthy behavior without treading onto personal liberties for others (alcohol comes to mind). Third, this is a situation where students are being required to live on-campus, but being put into a potentially unsafe situation.

As I said in the press conference about an hour ago, this really is as much a public safety issue as it is a public health issue. Other states (New Jersey) have waited until they had fatal dorm fires to enact this type of law. I don't think that we should wait.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey-

Kudos on this bill. Lots of times, it is the little things that can go a long way in helping.

And, as an aside, how can you leave GapersBlock.com off of your blogroll!?

 
At September 1, 2005 at 1:11 PM, Blogger JohnGalt said...

Mr. Galt, such a ban, while desirable, would be much more difficult to enforce.

Nonsense. If a fire occurs at a private residence, and it is deemed by investgation to have been the result of smoking, and children reside and said domicile, the smoker is then charged with child endangerment.

Smoking in a private home should be forbidden by the government if children are present. There is no excuse not to pass a law preventing this abuse.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 3:38 PM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Mr. Galt,
I didn't cast asperions on the merits of such a law. However, private residences are not imminently patrolable, and do not have state employees present who are charged with enforcing the ban.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 4:15 PM, Anonymous Paul Froehlich said...

Put me down as a co-sponsor.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 9:11 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Thanks Paul, I can always count on your support for good legislation. You'll be on it with me.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Springfield concerned with this?

Isn't this a university policy issue?

What are we paying the university adminsitrators for if policies like this must be dictated from Springfield?

Aren't there more pressing problems Springfield should be concerned with?

I'm sorry if I'm not as excited about this legislation as everyone else here is.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 9:40 PM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Rep. Froelich, too, is deserving of such a salutation.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 9:43 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

The fact that there is no smoking in the public portions of educational institutions is the result of the state Clean Indoor Air Act, not university policy. The Act does not apply to living quarters. My proposal would simply be a targeted expansion of the Act with a legitimate public safety and public health objective.

 
At September 1, 2005 at 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the universities themselves do not have the power to restrict smoking in their living areas?

 
At September 1, 2005 at 10:28 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

They do have the power, and the good news is that most of them already prohibit smoking in residence halls. Some of them don't however, and I believe that it should be a uniform policy, which happens to be within the purview of the legislature to implement.

 
At September 2, 2005 at 11:34 AM, Blogger JohnGalt said...

If the universities do have the power (thanks for the candor) isn't forcing them to do this micromanaging them?

Why do the current university trustees think that it is OK for students to smoke in their residences, and wouldn't it be better to 1) find a non-legislative solution to this problem or 2) find trustees that are more reasonable?

As the previous poster notes - if we have to manage the universities from Springfield, why are we paying administrators? And why do the legislators feel we need a uniform law when it appears that the people who actually running the universities didn't feel the need to follow a uniform policy?

And Amy - The law I propose banning smoking in private residences is very similar to the seatbelt law. That law is impractical to be enforced directly, only indirectly via traffic stops. If someone violates some other law, and they are not wearing their seatbelt, they get fined for violating the law.

Same with the smoking in a private residence with children. If a fire occurs and its found to having been caused by smoking, the smoker is penalized for endagering the child. Just like if he or she was driving drunk with a child.

There is much precedent for a law of this nature. I still do not understand while we continue to put our children at risk. Don't the lawmakers care?

 
At September 2, 2005 at 11:59 AM, Anonymous Rep. Karen Yarbrough said...

Hey Fritchey,
Great blog! Please add my name as a co-sponsor also.
Never seen a anti-smoking bill I didn't like!

 
At September 2, 2005 at 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to thank Representative Fritchey for introducing this legislation. I am dismayed that the spokesperson for UIC said he would comply with the law, but that now the University has no plans to prohibit smoking in dorms and residence halls. It is sad that he refuses to acknowledge the health and safety issue and as a public institution associated with a major medical school it seems that they should be leading the support. And UIC does prohibit smoking on all other university properties.

 
At September 5, 2005 at 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>spokesperson for UIC said he would
>comply with the law, but that now
>the University has no plans to
>prohibit smoking in dorms and
>residence halls.

Did the spokesman give a reason for this position?

I like it when the lawmakers pass laws overriding career bureaucrats. What right do the trustees have to run their university?

 
At September 5, 2005 at 9:42 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Given that all of the other U of I campuses prohibit smoking in dorms, it is difficult to understand what the rationale is for UIC's position.

As far as the legislator/trustee dichotomy is concerned, again I believe that this is a public safety and public health issue that falls within our realm and do not see us overriding any rightful authority of the trustees.

 
At September 6, 2005 at 2:36 PM, Blogger ndpotus said...

I am sponsoring a resolution in the Illinois State University Student Government Association supporting this legislation, I would like to urge other Student Governments to do the same...

 
At September 9, 2005 at 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey,

You mentioned that part of your rationale for prohibiting smoking in public university residence halls is that some students are required to live there.

How about allowing students the right to live where they choose?

Anon. Sept 1 9:25, John Galt, and Anon. Sept. 5 12:58,

The universities are publicly funded and therefore answerable to the taxpayers and our representatives, the legislature.

 

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