University System bans tobacco on campus
by Mark Andrews
Mar 20, 2014 | 1775 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A visitor to the indoor track at Georgia Highlands College’s Cartersville campus gets in a lunchtime run. The state Board of Regents is announcing a total tobacco ban on all its college campuses. One of the reasons given for the ban is to create a more healthy workplace for students and staff. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
A visitor to the indoor track at Georgia Highlands College’s Cartersville campus gets in a lunchtime run. The state Board of Regents is announcing a total tobacco ban on all its college campuses. One of the reasons given for the ban is to create a more healthy workplace for students and staff. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Beginning Oct. 1, all University System of Georgia campuses will be required to be tobacco free following a Wednesday vote by the USG Board of Regents. The policy will prohibit the use of “all forms of tobacco products on property owned, leased, rented or in the possession of the University System of Georgia,” according to a press release.

The policy applies to all students, employees, contractors and subcontractors as well as visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All events hosted by a USG entity or on behalf of the USG also will be subjected to the policy.

“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, said in a press release.

Already more than half of all USG institutions are tobacco and/or smoke free, including Georgia Highlands College.

“Currently we have a tobacco-free policy that includes chewing and smokeless tobaccos. I don’t think it would apply to electronic cigarettes the way the policy is worded now,” Dana Davis, who serves as Georgia Highlands College’s director of college relations, previously told The Daily Tribune News. “That policy was implemented shortly after [former President] Randy Pierce got here in 2001, before the introduction of electronic cigarettes.”

The USG Board of Regents cited “The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014,” in which Assistant Secretary for Health and Safety Howard Koh stated, “Cigarette smoking remains the chief preventable killer in America, with more than 40 million Americans caught in a web of tobacco dependence.”

Fedrick said the USG Board of Regent’s decision was done in the best interest of those associated with USG campuses.

“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,” he said in the release.

The release further states that research is the only exemption to the policy and any such exception would be determined by the president of the institution.

“While enforcement of the policy is also the responsibility of the president of the institution, the policy notes that it is also a shared community responsibility,” the release states. “Violations of the policy will be handled under the Student Code of Conduct or campus human resource policies. Visitors refusing to comply with the policy may be asked to leave campus.

“The University System, along with campuses, will provide information on tobacco cessation for those seeking assistance. Resources for tobacco cessation can be found on the USG Workplace Wellness website at http://www.usg.edu/wellness.”

Chattahoochee Technical College, which is part of the Technical College System of Georgia, does not have a ban on tobacco on campus, but does provide for restricted smoking areas. Mike Light, executive director for communications for the TCSG, said at this point it is too early to determine whether the USG ban will have an effect on how the TCSG approaches tobacco use on its campuses.

“Half of our 24 TCSG colleges do have smoking bans on their campuses and a few of those go as far as to say all tobacco products are banned on their campuses. The other colleges still have designated smoking areas,” Light said. “It’s too early on the heels of this to determine how that would affect our colleges, our colleges still allow smoking in designated areas because our policy has always been to allow the campuses’ administrations to determine those roles ...”