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UND holds press conference on proposed smoking ban

UND will hold a news conference today that could herald the first concrete step in UND President Charles Kupchella's proposed campuswide smoking ban.

UND will hold a news conference today that could herald the first concrete step in UND President Charles Kupchella's proposed campuswide smoking ban.

An e-mail to media announcing the news conference listed a "tobacco-free campus" as the subject but offered no other details. The news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the UND Wellness Center.

Kupchella first announced his plans to take UND smoke-free at the Wellness Center's opening ceremonies in October, proposing a campuswide ban on cigarettes and all other forms of tobacco, both indoors and out.

Since that announcement, Kupchella said he has been gathering input from faculty, staff and student groups and other campuses with full smoking bans, including Bismarck State College and Minot State University.

UND's Student Senate passed a resolution supporting the ban in late February, with about two-thirds of student senators voting in favor of the ban.

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Less than a week later, Kupchella said his administration "very likely" would proceed with the ban but hadn't reached a final decision. If imposed, he said, the ban would take effect before his planned retirement in January 2008.

Kupchella said the ban was inspired by his academic work as a cancer researcher and rapidly increasing health care costs during his tenure as president. Critics have charged the plan goes too far in legislating behavior and doesn't have a significant public health benefit.

Kupchella has called the ban ultimately unenforceable, but said he hopes it will increase public pressure on smokers to quit.

Marks reports on higher education. Reach him at (701) 780-1105, (800) 477-6572, ext. 105, or jmarks@gfherald.com .

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