A proposal is being considered by the Board of Regents (BOR) that bans all tobacco use at VSU and the 30 other institutions overseen by the University System of Georgia (USG).
Written by: John Stephen
The BOR first discussed the proposal, titled “Tobacco and Smoke-Free Campus Policy”, at a recent meeting and plan to make a final vote on the issue during their next meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 11 and 12. If passed, the policy will take effect July 1, 2014.
The proposal bans all forms of tobacco from being used on campus, including “cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and any other smoking devices that use tobacco such as hookahs or simulate the use of tobacco such as electronic cigarettes.”
This new rule would apply to all persons who step foot onto the VSU campus, even contracted workers and spectators at sporting events. Tobacco use would also be prohibited in all cars parked on campus and at all facilities overseen by VSU.
John Millsaps, USG associate vice chancellor, media and publications, said health concerns prompted the creation of the tobacco-free campus policy.
“The University System recognizes the serious health implications of both direct use of tobacco products and indirect exposure to the use of tobacco products and our responsibility to promote the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Millsaps said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The CDC also reports that 440,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year because of cigarette smoking, with 11 percent of those deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.
Blaine Edwards, a senior political science major at VSU, is a smoker, but he isn’t too worked up over the tobacco-free campus policy proposed by the BOR.
“Personally, I am opposed to it because I’m a smoker, but I tend to think it’s inevitable,” Edwards said. “Most of the sentiment out there is anti-smoking. There’s not a whole lot that can be done about it.”
Jamie Bolling, a VSU senior double-majoring in history and religious studies, is a non-smoker who believes a tobacco ban on campus would be a positive thing.
“Smoking isn’t good for you, anyway,” Bolling said. “They already ban it in restaurants, and VSU is technically a public place.”
Cornell Jones, a sophomore foreign language education major and a non-smoker, said he questions the ability of VSU to enforce a tobacco ban on campus. Jones is also not sure how effective the ban will be in causing people at VSU to quit smoking altogether.
Emory University, located in Atlanta, implemented a tobacco-free campus policy on Jan. 1, 2012, after researching the averse effects of tobacco use. Their policy is enforced by the students and faculty themselves, a procedure that works most of the time in preventing smokers from lighting up while on Emory’s campus.
An article published by medical personnel at the University of California, San Francisco, reports that smoke-free legislation is directly linked to fewer hospitalizations and deaths resulting from tobacco-related diseases. These findings have played a part in causing numerous colleges and universities to implement smoke and tobacco bans on their campus.
According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, 1,182 college campuses in the U.S. are smoke-free, and 811 of those campuses are completely tobacco-free.