The Associated Students of CSU is helping the city of Fort Collins collect information for a proposed smoking ordinance that could ban smoking in all public places, including restaurants and bars.
To help, ASCSU gives students questionnaires asking opinions about the proposal. Students fill out the questionnaires, ASCSU collects them and then sends them to the city for data collection.
“We are basically acting as a market for student input,” said David Bower, president of ASCSU. “We let the students know what’s going on and let them sound off. This is very important for students because it directly effects us because we are the ones going to the bars and the restaurants.”
The city’s goal is to find out whether Fort Collins residents want the smoking ban, Bower said.
Bower said he doubts the city would want to get in the middle of such a controversial ordinance and, rather than pass the ordinance itself, would leave it to the citizens to decide via an initiative. He also said the city is probably gathering the information so a group or citizen will know the opinions of the city and can make an informed decision whether to write an initiative for voter approval.
The proposed ordinance originally came from the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention, an organization which crusades to rid places of second hand smoke. CTEPA sent its proposal to Fort Collins City Council, and that started the city’s interest in discovering whether this proposal would be a good idea, Bower said.
CTEPA is one organization that could potentially write the initiative based on final results and Fort Collins voters could see an initiative on the 2003 Nov. ballot, Bower said.
ASCSU also has a message board for students to write comments about the proposal. The board is occasionally on the plaza, but is primarily in the ASCSU office in the Lory Student Center. Student comments will be sent to the city for input, Bower said.
ASCSU’s involvement in gathering the information results from a direct request from the city, Bower said.
The debate breaks into two sides: those supporting the ordinance because they believe secondhand smoke has an adverse affect on people’s long-term health, and those who think the proposal, if it became law, would interfere with an owner’s right to run a business as he or she sees fit.
Campus opinion on the issue is divided, usually between those who smoke and those who do not.
Jared Kirkley, a senior computer science major and smoker thinks the bill is, “ridiculous.”
“It takes away our personal freedom; it makes me mad that they are even considering this,” he said. “The government should inform, not control.”
Jacob Morgan, a non-smoker and research associate for the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, disagrees.
“This issue is set apart from other personal struggles because it is a health issue,” he said. “Smoking does create an adverse health situation, and the government has the right to regulate these situations.”
But just because there seems to be a divided line, does not mean all non-smokers agree with the proposal.
“I don’t think (a city ordinance should be able to) kick people out if they smoke,” said Nicole Foote, non-smoker and senior marketing and management major. “If the restaurant wants to, fine.”
The city of Fort Collins has posted initial results of local opinion. To date, about 61 percent of those who responded to the survey support the proposal, according to the City of Fort Collins’ Web site.
Even though ASCSU is involved, the would-be law is a city level issue and would not directly affect the CSU campus.
“This is not an issue on campus because we have laws that already say you can’t smoke in the buildings on campus anyway,” Bower said.
Last year, the ASCSU senate passed a bill recommending the proposal become law. This year’s senate has no initial plans for a similar bill.
“That was just the opinion of last year’s senate,” Bower said. “It has no bearing whatsoever for this year’s senate.”
[Breakout box: For more information about the smoking ban proposal, visit the City of Fort Collins’ Web site. http://www.fcgov.com/smoking
Edited by Shandra Jordan and Colleen Buhrer