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Up in smoke

New policy limits tobacco use on campus

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 02:09

Smoking

Roger Zhang

Texas A&M’s policy on smoking and tobacco use on-campus has been modified to prohibit smoking in more areas — a policy that has not been changed since 1996.

The smoking regulations — which were officially changed on Thursday — now prohibit smoking and tobacco use in more areas than before.

“We have had a rule that dates back to 1996 on campus that prohibits tobacco and smoking use in buildings, residence halls and vehicles,” said Jason Cook, the vice president of marketing and communication at A&M. “Now [it includes] sidewalks, parking lots, walkways and parking structures immediately adjacent to these.”

The new policy also prohibits smoking in all vehicles owned, leased or rented by the University.

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said in an email that the policy was changed as a more comprehensive safeguard to the health and well being of the students, faculty, staff and visitors.

“The changes are the result of a thoughtful decision-making process based on well-documented evidence that use of tobacco products poses significant health risks,” Loftin said. “Those health risks extend to non-users of such products as well as to users.”

Included in the email to staff and faculty was a compilation of resources to help tobacco users stop smoking.

Cook said that a movement outside of College Station itself motivated the University to revise their policy on tobacco use.

“There is a movement across the country for university campuses to move more towards being tobacco free,” Cook said. “The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas last year announced new guidelines for tobacco use around buildings where funded research is taking place.”

When the new guidelines were first announced in the spring, it came with the possibility of non-compliant institutions losing their funding from CPRIT.

Cook said the University updated the smoking regulations with the best interest of students, faculty and staff in mind, while also considering visitors to the Campus.

“We want to try to make the entrances to our buildings a little bit friendlier to visitors,” Cook said.

Cook said that the first step in such a policy implementation is educating people of the rule and of the resources available to them.

“With any effort like this, it begins first with education ¬— not only for students, faculty and staff on our campus but also for visitors to our campus,” Cook said. “We are looking at [putting] signage in high traffic areas and also in University vehicles.”

A&M workers replaced the signs leading to a designated smoking area with ones reading instead “Please No Smoking,” while Brooke Trahan, a junior psychology major, sat nearby in this smoking area.

“I feel like it’s my right to smoke just like it’s other people’s right to not have secondhand smoke,” Trahan said. “But I feel like it is going to just continue to where smoking is not allowed on the whole campus.”

Trahan said that it is not necessary to entirely forbid on-campus smoking.

“There is so much pollution from cars and other things,” Trahan said. “But with secondhand smoke, if you don’t want to breathe the smoke, you can walk around it. I don’t think it’s fair to completely ban it—you can avoid [the smoke] if you are that adamant about it.”

 

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