Smoking could be banned at all of Illinois' public colleges under legislation passed by the General Assembly. Though several campuses have already gone smoke-free, this measure would make it illegal to smoke anywhere at the state's 12 public universities, plus its community colleges.
Though the final vote mostly fell upon party lines — Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed — some lawmakers crossed ideological boundaries.
Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Gilson) says the mandate is about the health of young college students.
"The students that go there, some of them might even have respiratory problems," he said. "And they can't go off campus to get clean air, the air is what it is there."
But Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) says the legislation won't do much to change smokers' behavior.
"This is just going to basically put them in a situation where they're going to break the law," he said. "Because they're not going to stop smoking, they're just going to hope they don't get caught."
Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) says this would be no different from previous restrictions on smoking, most recently in restaurants and bars.
"So, yeah, this is a prohibition on smoking, much like we've done in most public places in the state of Illinois, simply for the reason that second-hand smoke impacts others," she said.
The measure needs a signature from Gov. Pat Quinn to become law, but a spokesman for Quinn says he has not yet taken a position on it.