Students remove butts from Bowman Hall

Abi Luempert

Armed with plastic gloves, Sonny Liptak, junior school health education major and member of Eta Sigma Gamma, picks up cigarette butts yesterday behind Bowman Hall. The service, done through the health education honorary fraternity, was to promote a smoke-

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Members of an honorary fraternity picked up cigarette butts in front of Bowman Hall as part of BACCHUS’ “Adopt a building campaign” yesterday afternoon. This organization, Eta Sigma Gamma, is a College of Education, Health and Human Services honorary fraternity.

Picking up the butts is just one step toward the honorary society and BACCHUS’ goal – a smoke-free campus.

“We would love for the campus to be smoke-free,” said Alexis Blavos, graduate student in community health and education promotion. “It will be very difficult and will take a very long time, though.”

Six students from the group, clad in white gloves, picked up butts for more than an hour.

The 4,000 chemicals found in secondhand smoke are part of the reason Eta Sigma Gamma is helping clean up.

“We aren’t attacking those who smoke, but the inconsiderate behaviors some smokers have,” said Lauren Kessel, senior community health major and president of the honorary. “Smoking is a serious public health hazard.”

Focus groups conducted by students and faculty found 70 percent of Kent State students to be non-smokers. Kessel said they would “probably prefer to be in a non-smoking environment.”

Cigarette butts aren’t biodegradable, she said. Also, the $75,000 the university spends per year picking the butts up can be eliminated if smoking is banned or if smokers discarded of them properly.

Blavos said the $75,000 that can be saved a year could possibly help lower tuition and thus, increase enrollment, or be spent on educational or fun programs for students.

Blavos hopes their effort will create awareness and encourage smokers to stay the 20 to 25 feet away from the building they’re supposed to maintain.

Aside from the postings outside buildings, there isn’t anyone or anything to enforce the appropriate smoking range. But, Blavos said moving trash receptacles further away from buildings may help.

“I have even seen students smoking in buildings,” she said.

The honorary society is promoting the smoke-free initiative by hosting a table on the second floor of the Student Center this week. Kessel said there are petitions and smoke-free endorsements students can sign.

The smoke-free initiative has been successful at other universities, Blavos said. It deters people from picking up the habit and encourages smokers to quit.

This organization’s participation is part of the Smoke-free Kent initiative. Eta Sigma Gamma and other organizations work closely with the Kent State Clean Indoor Air Campaign and the Portage County Tobacco Coalition.

Contact College and Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Abi Luempert at [email protected].