Restaurants, bars, hospitals, and now the college campus. The “truth” about smoking has now reached the Board of Regents. Regent Thomas Hopkins and two other members have come out fully supporting a non-smoking proposal due for review early this year. If agreed upon, the board members will implement a school-wide smoking ban on all outdoor campus areas. This accounts for all 31 institutions within the the university system.
The proposal is one of many intricate pieces of a network of health initiatives geared toward a non-smoking environment. In comparison, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ non-smoking ban encompasses 1,100 college campuses nationwide.
Since the 1980s, the University System of Georgia has banned smoking in all indoor facilities on all campuses. The new discussion is now aimed toward eliminating smoking on all green spaces as well. Georgia Perimeter College campuses currently have designated smoking areas on campus.
The purpose of the ban is for the health and welfare of students and staff members alike, said member of the Board of Regents, Dr. Valerie Hepburn.
“The science is very clear about the impact of second-hand smoke.”
With a background in public health, Dr. Hepburn is one of many regents in full support of the proposal and is very optimistic about the approval of the board.
The fact that some board members are also healthcare professionals can only help the proposal. According to Dr. Hepburn, a strong, progressive leadership has helped to finally bring the proposal into fruition.
The possible ban is also expected to positively affect campuses financially as well. Chairman of the Board Philip Wilheit says health insurance cost has improved since implementing a smoking ban at his company. Now, only 3 out of 80 of his employees are smokers and he has noticed improved respiratory health amoung them as well.
Naturally, the possible ban is met with very little fanfare from students.
“You still have to let people be people,” said Aneisa Adesanya, GPC Dunwoody Homecoming queen.
According to Adesanya, you should not take away the privilege from young adults. As a non smoker, Adesanya feels that the smokers on Dunwoody’s campus are responsible about staying in the designated area on campus and as long as she doesn’t walk by the smoking section, she is not affected.
The board members are generally optimistic about the implementation of the ban though they agree that it will be an incremental process. At any rate, if the proposal is given the green light, Dr. Hepburn projects the process to begin as early as the 2014-2015 school year for the remaining university system schools that have not already banned smoking completely on their campuses.
According to no-smoke.org, 20 schools in Georgia are already 100 percent smoke free. Whether or not smoking will be prohibited during sporting events is unknown.
(Photos by: Perry Standridge)