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Aggie smokers may be blown off-campus by fall semester

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

aggie smokers

Michael Youngkin, junior chemistry major, smokes on campus as University administrators consider a t

James Thompson — THE BATTALION

Smokers at A&M might find themselves squeezed out of their last remaining strongholds on campus by Aug. 31, 2012.

University administrators on campuses around the state are carefully considering tobacco-free campus policies as a result of new rules created by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT. In January, CPRIT's oversight committee adopted a policy that requires grant recipients to have policies in place prohibiting tobacco use in buildings and structures where financed research activities take place — including outdoor areas immediately adjacent to those buildings. Grant recipients must also provide smoking cessation services for community members who wish to partake.

As the University of Texas at Austin mulls over a campus-wide tobacco ban, smokers and non-smokers alike at A&M are grumbling over a similar possibility. Nathaniel Lucky, a freshman biology major and a non-smoker, said he thinks the regulations are too extensive.

"I would think a lot, if not most, of the buildings on campus are used in research for one way or another," Lucky said. "I don't think it's fair to Nearly $600 million in grants have been issued thus far, with most of these directed to academic institutions.

Texas A&M University received more than $3.4 million in grants throughout the duration of CPRIT's lifespan, the latest of which came in January 2011. Additionally, the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center and the Texas Agrilife Extension Service received almost $9.1 million in grants during that same time.

The new regulations take effect Aug. 31, 2012, for all institutions currently receiving grants and those who apply for new grants following March 1. Institutions that do not comply risk losing funding.

A student and smoker who asked to remain anonymous said the regulations were designed to force campuses into school-wide bans.

"It's obvious that [CPRIT] intended to force campuses to go smoke-free," the student said. "These schools can't afford to lose their grant money."

Ellen Read, information specialist of the media and marketing division at CPRIT, responded to the claims that oversight committee's new regulations were designed to force tobacco-free campuses entirely.

"We want taxpayer dollars to go toward what they gave us the mandate to do," Read said. "So no, that was not the intended effect, but if that's what happens as a result then that's not too bad for us. In fact, we would be happy about that."

A campus-wide ban on tobacco at Texas A&M, which includes 5,200 acres and more than 500 buildings, would cover an extensive area.

Jason Cook, A&M vice president for marketing and communications, said the University has not made any decisions on a smoke-free campus.

"Right now we have policies in place that comply so we're not overly concerned with this," Cook said. "It would be a big decision to make the campus tobacco-free so we haven't yet decided on a clear path."


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