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Smoking banned on Emory, Oglethorpe campuses by fall

2:17 PM, Apr 5, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- A recent study published in Preventative Medicine showed one-fifth of American college students smoke. Most metro Atlanta Universities say their numbers are lower, around 10 percent. But that is headed for zero, at least while on campus. It's part of a renewed debate to go smoke-free.

Emory University research professor Dr. Susan Butler says the new smoking ban on campus "came through an amazing set of circumstances." DeKalb County passed along federal grant money they'd received to help campuses go tobacco-free.

Now, Emory University is clearing the air on its new smoking ban. "We are joining over 580 colleges and over 2800 health care facilities that are now tobacco-free, and it's the right thing to do," Butler said.

Emory is joining Oglethorpe and Mercer as DeKalb County college campuses going completely tobacco-free. It means no smoking on campus property for students, faculty, contractors, and visitors.

There's a MARTA stop on the edge of campus property that would fall under the new policy. The riders waiting for the bus hadn't heard of the new rules, but liked the idea.

"It might not be a popular opinion with college students, but I like it," Brittany Mason said. "I'm not a smoker, and I feel like I'm constantly getting hit in the face with it, and I don't really want to."

Danielle Lambert, an Emory student, was on the board that developed a plan to transition into a tobacco-free campus.

"You can't just go outside the building. You can't smoke in your cars. You can't walk around campus and smoke. If you do want to smoke, you're going to have to go pretty far off campus," she said.

That part about not being able to smoke in your own car is raising eyebrows for some.

Paula Breazeale and Miranda Novak were on campus visiting a museum. They're split down the middle: one is a smoker, one completely uninterested in lighting up. They both agree each campus should be able to make its own choice on whether to go tobacco-free. They understand the push back from non-smokers and believe the restrictions are part of a movement that will become more widespread. But that car issue made both hesitate.

"I think that might be taking it a little too far. I mean, that's your own personal property, your car," Breazeale said.

"That is your own personal space. When you're in there, you're not hurting anybody," Novak added.

Emory University is still in transition. Right now, there are smoking pods around campus, but by next fall all of those will be gone, and smokers will have to leave campus to light up.

The move comes as their neighbors at the CDC are celebrating the success of new graphic anti-smoking ads. Two weeks after their release, calls doubled to quit lines.

"They're trying to use a fear technique to show people: this is really what happens," Lambert said. Instead of the fear factor, campuses embrace the "inconvenience" factor. "Making people, who do smoke, work really hard to be able to do it."

After an educational period, the campuses will go completely tobacco-free in August. But even then, this is a policy not a law. Campus officials can ask you to stop smoking or leave, but they can't ticket you. They plan on a "peer pressure" effect to enforce the new policy.

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