University System of Georgia bans tobacco on all campuses in Georgia

The Board of Regents voted to create a policy that will prohibit the use of all forms of tobacco products on property owned, lease, rented or in the possession of the University System of Georgia (USG) on March 31.

The policy applies to all employees, students, contractors, subcontractors and visitors and is applicable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All events hosted by a USG entity will be tobacco and smoke free, according to the policy.

The ban will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2014 and will affect 31 public university campuses in Georgia including Georgia State.

The university system, along with campuses, will provide information on tobacco cessation for those seeking assistance.

“Our aim with this policy is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of employees and any persons occupying USG facilities,” said Marion Fedrick, the USG’s vice chancellor for Human Resources.

A smoking ban was implemented at Georgia State in 2012 by the school’s senate, but students say nothing is being done about smoking on campus. The Student Government Association and the Smoke-Free committee is currently planning ways to implement the new policy.

The Georgia State Code of Conduct and Administrative Policies explicitly states the smoking ban policy:

“Smoking and tobacco use of any kind is prohibited on all GSU owned and/or leased locations/premises; all internal and external areas, parking garages, and parking lots; in all GSU own and/or leased vehicles. Smoking is also prohibited within 25-feet of all GSU building entrances and exits. University Housing will designate limited exterior smoking/tobacco use areas within the grounds of residential facilities. Individuals observed smoking/using tobacco are to be reminded in a professional and courteous manner of this policy.”

Nationally, there are more than 1,100 colleges and universities with smoke-free campuses and 811 of those ban all tobacco products, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights foundation.

The foundation also said over 20 of the University System of Georgia’s entity are smoke-free.

Violations of the policy will be handled under the Student Code of Conduct or campus resource policies. Visitors refusing to comply with the policy may be asked to leave campus. Violators at Georgia State are to be reminded in a professional manner of this policy.

Kirkland Carden, political science major, is curious about the outcome of the smoke-free campus.

“As a smoker, it is an inconvenience. I am curious to see how they are going to enforce it. The campus’s problem is communication. How are we going to get the message?” Carden said. “However, my right to smoke should not trample your health. As a smoker, it is very annoying. However, as President of Georgia State’s Young Democrats I think that this is a good idea if it can be enforced.”

Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the health conditions caused by secondhand smoke in adults include coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

“The University System recognizes these serious health implications and feels it’s our responsibility to promote the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Fedrick said.

Students find problems with Georgia State’s smoke free policy

Ashlyn Bell, journalism major, says Georgia State would have to first to explain what is considered Georgia State property.

“Georgia State would have to define what is Georgia State’s property. Because GSU is an urban campus, it would be harder for students to determine what is a smoke-free area and what is public property,” Bell said.

Student Stephanie Middlebrook doubts the outcome of the smoke-free campus.

“They are trying to stop smokers from smoking. People are going to smoke regardless. I personally do not think that this is going to work,” Bell said.

Other students are against the policy.

“I do not approve. I am a smoker and live on campus. I can understand having a smoker section, but I do not understand why I can’t have a smoke where I pay my money live at,” said Christopher Turner, Biology major. “Having a smoke-free campus will interfere with my daily routine. After I eat, I take a smoke break. Between classes, I take a puff or two to calm down,” Bell said.

However, some students believe that the smoke-free policy is beneficial to the campus.

“I think that it’s a good idea. I think it is annoying to have smoke everywhere while you are trying to eat outside. It is not fair to the non-smokers on campus who have to deal with the smell of tobacco. Also, I find that it is not very clean to have cigarette buds everywhere,” said Hannah Watkins, chemistry major.

Darrien Woodson said smokers will find other places to smoke rather than change their lifestyles.

“The motion is fine with me. I am not opposed. I do not think that it will change the habits for a lot of smokers. If someone has to smoke, they will definitely go somewhere else to smoke,” Woodson said. “It would be nice to have an area to accommodate the smokers of Georgia State. Maybe a smoker’s area.”