Written By: Isaiah Smart
The ability to enjoy tobacco products at free will is going up in smoke on Oct. 1.
After a decision from the USG Board of Regents was passed this spring to make all campuses in the system tobacco-free, the time has finally come to go into effect. The policy is a by-product of the Georgia Smoke Free Air Act of 2005, Title 31, Chapter 12A, which is in place to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of students, employees and any persons on a USG campus.
According to Section 9.1.7 of the Board of Regents policy manual, tobacco products include “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 cigarette,”. Using these products in any capacity on property owned, leased, rented or in possession of VSU is prohibited.
Even if you are in your car on campus.
When SGA sent out a survey last spring to gauge student’s opinions, only 1,023 students responded. Out of those 1,023 students, 44 percent of respondents strongly opposed the ban.
“I mean, I’m a rebel, so at first I might go against it, but I’ll eventually get with the program,” Reggie Kalee, junior, said. “I’m trying to stop smoking anyway so I think it will help.”
Additionally, 60 percent of the respondents weren’t tobacco users, which shows that the feedback wasn’t one-sided. Some students simply feel that the right for people to smoke as they please shouldn’t be infringed upon.
Enforcement, as stated in the policy, varies among each campus as it is left to the discretion of the university president. According to the human resources and employee development website, the enforcement rests with all members of the university community.
With that, all staff, faculty and students are expected to politely remind an offender of the policy and request the product be discarded. University police will not ticket offenders unless they become belligerent and/or aggressive.
Albany State is issuing a $50.00 surcharge for offenders. Institutions like Georgia State, Georgia Southern and West Georgia are currently enforcing similar policies to that of VSU.
“Savannah State has been doing a $25.00 ticket and it has been working so far,” Tamelia Hall, SGA comptroller, said.
Nick Buford, SGA vice president, and Tamelia Hall attended a Tobacco Free Campus Summit at UGA this past weekend.
The Student Government Association is planning different events and initiatives to inform students of the policy and educate students on the health risks of tobacco products. Included in that plan will be an event with new safety awareness mascot, SAM.
SAM the safety awareness mascot featuring Up In Smoke will be on Oct. 9 at 6:30pm in Jennett Lecture Hall 1111. SGA and the office of communications will sponsor the event.
“We would love for students, faculty and staff to come out and share their opinions concerning the policy,” Tyler Barker, SGA president, said.
On Oct. 1, the Kick Butts Day initiative will take place between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. where student organizations, faculty and staff will distribute pamphlets, tobacco free promotional items and candy promoting a tobacco free campus.
Contact Tim Yorkey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-270-STOP (7867) to participate in cessation programs and other courses.