U of M group wants a smoke-free campus. Do you?

A University of Minnesota student group is trying to push the anti-tobacco agenda a step further and ban all smoking across campus by 2013.

The Student Health Advisory Committee sent a letter to newbie college president Eric Kaler last month asking him to support the smoke-free cause.

The group also posted an online petition to rally student support, reigniting an age-old controversy on the college campus.

Some quick history: In 1930, U of M President Lotus Coffman instituted a smoking ban inside the campus library in response to student complaints.

Harrison Salisbury, a future Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who then worked as managing editor of the Minnesota Daily, was among a group of students aggrieved by the new policy.

Salisbury and about 20 others infamously crusaded against the ban by lighting up in the campus library. Salisbury was kicked out of school for an entire year, and the story of his protest made it on the front page of the New York Times (where, coincidentally, Salisbury would later work as a reporter and editor).

Now, let's flash forward: The push to ban smoking outdoors started in 2008. It was exactly one year after Minnesota went smoke free, and the campus put out a survey to gauge whether students would go for the idea.

The main concern then -- as it is now -- was whether the rule could be enforced on such a big campus.

If the policy does go through, the school would be following several other Minnesota colleges. The U of M's Duluth and Crookston campuses have both instituted a ban, according to the Daily, along with Minnesota State Moorhead. Hennepin County also recently banned smoking on all county-owned property.

So we pose the question to our readers. What'll it be, City Pages people: Smoking or non?

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