NMU board made right call on smoking statute

Northern Michigan University will officially be a tobacco-free campus Aug. 1, following the go-ahead vote given by the organization’s Board of Trustees Friday morning.

That’s a vote we wholeheartedly agree with. A number of other college campuses around the state – including the University of Michigan and Michigan Tech University – have implemented tobacco-free or smoke-free bans as well.

We’re pleased Northern is jumping on board. We’re also happy that NMU won’t just be unilaterally imposing the ban come Aug 1. According to Cindy Paavola, communications director for the university, the administration plans to begin with a “soft rollout,” informing people of the ban well in advance of the Aug. 1 deadline to prevent any last minute confusion among faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The university will also provide cessation help for smokers who frequent campus who may want to quit.

The board voted 5 to 1 in favor of the tobacco ban, with two board members not attending the meeting and Trustee Gil Ziegler casting the lone nay vote.

Ziegler said he couldn’t vote for something that would essentially stop someone from making destructive personal decisions, saying people should be able to choose what they decide to do for themselves.

While we understand Ziegler’s sentiments, the argument could also be made that hundreds of regulations – from seat belt laws to speed limits – have been implemented to save people from themselves.

And this is a measure that could end up saving a lot of people, not to mention that as tobacco bans are implemented more and more throughout the state, the long-term health care costs associated with tobacco use will continue to drop. That’s something that everyone can be happy about.

We applaud the university for putting forth the effort in researching this tobacco ban, and we further applaud the board for approving it.