Members of the Graduate and Professional Student Council met Tuesday and discussed a proposed ban on smoking on campus. 

Led by James Davis, assistant professor of medicine and medical director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation, the Duke Smoke Free Initiative is seeking support from campus stakeholders for a proposed University policy that would ban all forms of combustible tobacco at Duke by 2019. E-cigarettes and chewing tobacco would remain permitted under the proposal.

“I’m a little uncomfortable with creating nanny states...but smoking is kind of in a different league,” Davis said.

Davis emphasized that his working group’s recent review of research suggested that 67 percent of smokers will die of an illness caused by their smoking. Secondhand smoke can also cause heart and lung disease, he noted. 

Although Duke has already moved to limit some smoking on campus, it has not joined other universities in instituting a complete ban. Previous attempts at instituting such a policy have run into challenges from Housing and Residence Life, administration and a lack of student backing, Davis said. 

“If this is going to go through, now that I’ve looked at the politics behind it, it will require students to get behind it,” Davis said. 

This time, however, the working group—which includes junior Kushal Kadakia and clinical research specialists Walid Salah and Gopi Neppala—has sought to involve administrators, student and employee groups early. Already they have received positive backing from President Vincent Price and Chancellor for Health Affairs A. Eugene Washington, who implemented similar programs at their previous positions, Kadakia said. 

The working group conducted a survey of 2,800 students and faculty, finding that 11.4 percent of undergraduates, 7.9 percent of graduate students and 1.7 percent of faculty surveyed smoke cigarettes. Among international students, the rate was 15.6 percent. Programs at other schools have reduced the smoking rate by 50 percent, Davis said. 

Under the proposal, community members would enforce the policy by handing smokers they see cards that list resources for quitting. Davis said part of the plan is to expand resources freely available through the University as well. 

“Fifty years from now, we would like to see more Duke students alive because they’re not smoking,” Davis said.

GPSC General Assembly members will vote on a resolution regarding the proposal at their Oct. 31 meeting. 

In other business:

Nikki Pelot, a sixth-year student in biomedical engineering, presented information about her petition challenging Duke’s recent ban on bicycles on Abele Quad. Pelot said that based on a conversation with Alison Carpenter, transit planner for Planning and Transportation Services, and campus landscape architect Mark Hough, she and other signatories worked to draft recommendations for a revised policy. These included suggestions for improved bicycle infrastructure on campus, a dedicated sidewalk on the quad open to both bicycles and pedestrians, as well as increased promotion of biking to campus. 

In the wake of last year’s approval of the OneDuke Access Fund, which provided a budget for grants to graduate student with needs, GPSC established a committee to make recommendations about the future of the program. 

Jason Lee, a second-year student in the Master of Environmental Management program, said that the program awarded 36 grants of $200 out of 358 total applications, though not all grants—in the form of cards from University Center Activities and Events—were picked up. 

Lee said the evaluation committee determined it would like to reinstate the program as the GPSC Emergency Travel Reimbursement program. Initially using funds leftover from the previous program, the program would provide reimbursements of $200 for graduate students who have to go on emergency trips on short notice. Tickets would have to have been purchased in the past two weeks and travel would have to occur within a two-week window. 

“We probably will see people who don’t have a true emergency, but it’s hard for me to imagine that someone will lie about ‘My grandma is sick, I want to go on Spring Break,’” Lee said.

Lee noted that he intends for the program to launch in early November.