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Smoking banned on campus

New policy to take effect in fall 2012

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 17:02

smoke free ucf

Rebecca Strang/Central Florida Future

Starting in fall 2012, UCF will be a smoke-free campus. The announcement was made during SGA’s Senate meeting on Thursday.

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UCF will be a smoke-free campus beginning in the fall.

During Thursday's Student Government Association Senate meeting, Vice President of Student Enrollment Services Maribeth Ehasz, Associate Director of Clinical Services Michael Deichen, Coordinator of Management Analysis Mary Owens and SGA Director of Student Affairs Michael Davis made the official announcement that UCF will be a nonsmoking environment.

The rule, however, is non-punitive. Although UCF expects the numbers of smokers on campus to lessen, students will not receive citations or punishment if seen smoking on campus.

Rather, the enforcement of the ban will be the responsibility of students and faculty.

"We want to change the social norm on campus," Deichen said. "This is the trend nationwide; this is what's happening."

Cigarette use will be banned on the main campus, including inside vehicles and parking garages. It will apply to students, faculty, employees and visitors.

Junior mechanical engineering major Cody Joy is supportive of the idea but questions how effective the ban will be.

"It's a great plan, but I just don't see any feasible way of enforcing it," Joy said.

UCF will become the third university in the state to ban smoking, joining the University of Florida and Florida International University.

More than 600 colleges and universities in the country are smoke-free campuses, Deichen said.

Cancer prevention and health concerns are the reasons for the legislation. Deichen said that nonsmokers are more inclined to pick up the habit after observing smoking behavior. He hopes that a smoke-free UCF will help guard nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.

Davis said that a recent survey done by the university showed that 70 percent of students were in favor of a non-smoking initiative; also, smokers would be somewhat comfortable putting out their cigarette if asked to do so by faculty or another student.

Davis believes that the university has grown and developed a lot over the past few years, and the university is refocusing on students and their health and safety.

He did not want a punitive approach to the ban but recognizes the current legislation as a positive for students and their general health.

Ehasz and Deichen said that many other universities in the country take this non-punitive approach, and they are following those models which they believe have had success.

The University of Florida does not issue citations, according to its website, nor does Florida International University, though formal punishment remains a possibility as a last resort in some cases, according to the FIU website.

To help enforce the ban, UCF will train select individuals to approach smoking persons and ask them to put out their cigarette.

Owens said that the discussion of a smoke-free campus started about two years ago when a student inquired about why UCF was not smoke-free.

Then last October, President John C. Hitt announced during his State of the University address that UCF was moving toward becoming a smoke-free campus.

After receiving a $123,000 grant to help start marketing the "Catch Your Breath" campaign, the university has moved forward and the ban is expected to begin Aug. 20.

The university will offer services to help smokers quit. Regional campuses will not be held to the ban, though many will become smoke-free environments, including Valencia College. The Rosen College of Hospitality Management is already smoke-free.

Also during the SGA Senate meeting, Ehasz announced her support of an alcoholic emergency policy. Ehasz said a bill has not yet come to her desk, but she is in support of the idea.

Such a policy could be passed by the end of the month.

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