New tobacco standard for colleges in Georgia
On March 19, the Georgia Board of Regents voted create a policy to ban all tobacco products on University System of Georgia Campuses.
The new policy will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2014.
“Our aim with this policy is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of employees and any persons occupying USG facilities,” Marion Fedrick, the USG’s vice chancellor for Human Resources, said.
The Board of Regents is a group of policy makers that are individually selected by Governor Nathan Deal, and do not necessarily represent Georgia College or any of the other public colleges in Georgia that it rules over.
“GC’s present stance on tobacco is that smoking is only allowed in certain designated areas. Beginning next October however, we will be obligated to change that policy to the one passed by the BOR,” Bruce Harshbarger, Vice President of Student Affairs, said. “If the system-wide policy had not been established, and if GC was to reconsider the issue of smoking on campus, I don’t know whether or not GC’s University Senate would have chosen to keep or change the existing campus policy. But that point now is moot since GC’s authority on the matter is superseded by the BOR’s.”
Encouraged use and enforcement of designated smoking areas was a point of agreement for smokers and nonsmokers who opposed the ban.
“Designated smoking areas is the ideal policy,” Jonathan Gwaltney said between puffs of a 50-year-old Padrón cigar. “With the designated smoking areas, the goal [of the policy] is accomplished… and I think now the Board is delving into the smoker’s rights to make his or her own health choices on his or her personal health.”
Katie Adcock, SGA Attorney General at GC, said she has not charged anyone with a smoking violation. The new policy relies heavily on reports from concerned students, faculty or others to the police.
Those in favor of the new policy are mostly concerned about health issues. Christy Petras, a nonsmoker who is for the ban, “hopes with the new [policy], people will be less inclined to smoke than before,” and is looking out for the health of GC’s smokers.
On paper, the ban makes sense: A smoke free campus free of cigarette butts and smoke.
Adcock hopes that a promotion of the new ban and potential consequences will persuade people to stop smoking on campus without having to call the police at all – but she also acknowledges it may dissuade potential employees from working here, and the employees’ habits are going to be the hardest to change, due to the level of respect they command and how habitual smoking has become for many of them during the years.
In order to help current tobacco users, GC will offer a free Smoking Cessation Program starting April 8, 2014, from 12 – 1:30 p.m. The program will meet once a week through May 20. Call 478-445-7535 or email email@example.com for more information. Additionally, for information about a tobacco cessation programs through the American Cancer Society and the Oconee Regional Medical Center that occur every other month starting April 15, call 478-454-3705.