August 31, 2011
In an effort to break an unhealthy habit and promote a healthier environment, more universities are implementing smoke-free or tobacco-free policies on campus.
As of July 1, more than 500 U.S. college campuses have become 100% smoke-free or tobacco-free, reported CNN. The University of Kentucky is one such school. There, smokers may be approached by a stranger who will ask them to put their cigarettes out if they are seen smoking on campus. These strangers are Tobacco-free Take Action! volunteers, who have been tasked to roam the campus for any student, employee or visitor smoking and respectfully ask them to put their cigarette out. The smoker will also be given information on quit-smoking resources available on campus.
Although the first surgeon general report on the dangers of smoking was released in 1964, smoke-free campuses did not start appearing until the early 2000s. Ty Patterson, former vice president of Student Affairs at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Missouri told CNN that his campus was the first to go smoke-free in 2003. Since then an increasing number of colleges and universities have followed suit. As Liz Williams, project manager at American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, pointed out, in just the past year, 120 new campuses were added to the smoke-free list. Other campuses that went smoke-free in July include the University of Michigan and the University of Florida in Gainesville. Valencia College in Orlando will be smoke-free starting 2012 and, according to the Hattiesburg American, the University of Southern Mississippi began phasing in its ban on smoking this semester. The university started by limiting smokers to designated areas, but eventually the campus will become 100% smoke-free.
"It's a culture change. If there was a slogan for this, that would probably be it," said Student Government Association President Erick Brown.
According to The Daily Texan, a student organization is pushing for a campus-wide ban on smoking at the University of Texas at Austin. The group's first step was to raise awareness by releasing an online guide detailing the tobacco policies of 31 popular off-campus housing options for students looking for a place to live. They hope that the guide will lead to stronger smoking regulations at UT.
Patterson predicts that nearly all U.S. college campuses will be completely smoke-free in 10 years, reported CNN.
However, although students acknowledge the benefits of smoke-free policies, some feel that they go too far.
"It's not within the scope of the university's responsibilities to decide that smoking is an activity that we as adults shouldn't engage in," said Graham Kozak, a senior at U-M and president of the College Libertarians. Kozak added that smoking is a "personal choice".
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"Colleges tell smokers, 'You're not welcome here'," CNN.com, August 31, 2011, Stephanie Steinberg
"Student group works to tighten campus regulations on smoking," dailytexanonline.com, August 7, 2011, Syeda Hasan
"USM amends smoking policy," hattiesburgamerican.com, August 30, 2011, Ed Kemp