Published: Feb 12, 2013
Beginning in August 2013, The University of Tampa will join the growing list of U.S. colleges and universities to limit smoking on campus by designating particular smoking zones.
The policy, which was approved by the UT administration, designates four zones on campus where individuals may smoke. The rest of the 105-acre UT campus, including all academic and residential buildings, athletic facilities and fields, parking garages, open spaces and offices, will be smoke free.
The policy was created and submitted to UT administration by the student organization Breathe-Easy UT. The organization has been working on the policy for four years and did extensive surveys and focus groups with students, faculty and staff. The organization found in a 2012 survey that 72 percent of the UT community favored the smoking zone policy, and 61 percent believe that overall health will improve if UT becomes a smoke-free campus. The organization also received a petition with more than 1,000 student signatures favoring such a policy.
According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF), in the state of Florida, 11 college campuses have taken the step to become 100 percent smoke-free, including the University of Florida and Hillsborough Community College. Florida institutions that have implemented smoking zones include Jacksonville University, University of South Florida, Rollins College and the University of Miami. There are smoke-free colleges and universities in virtually every state, totaling more than 1,100 campuses that are 100 percent smoke free.
Over the next six months, UT will implement an educational campaign to explain the smoking zones and to work with students and employees who wish to break their smoking addiction. Starting immediately, students, faculty and staff will be recruited and trained to enforce the current policy and the upcoming mutual respect smoke zones policy.
Smoking has long been prohibited in UT’s buildings, and smokers currently are required to be at least 25 feet away from entry and exit doors.
In 2009 the American College Health Association (ACHA) issued a “no tobacco policy” position statement encouraging colleges and universities nationwide “to be diligent in their efforts to achieve a 100 percent indoor and outdoor campus-wide tobacco-free environment.”
“Our goal is to create and promote a healthy campus that will foster teaching, learning, working and living,” said Gina Firth, UT associate dean of wellness. “This initiative will have a positive impact in many ways, including enhanced community life, improved productivity through better health and potential decreases in health care costs.”
According to an American Lung Association study, college students are particularly prone to taking up social smoking as an opportunity to facilitate social interaction. Approximately 16 percent of UT students smoke cigarettes. In the U.S., smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually, and nearly 50,000 annual deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure.
More information about smoking cessation programs can be found at UT’s Live Well at UT website at www.ut.edu/wellness/committee