Tobacco ban enforcement policy still hazy

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Lauren Gorla

On March 19, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted to approve a tobacco ban that prevents any person on a college campus from using tobacco products.

The policy, which goes into effect Oct. 1, 2014, states that the enforcement of the policy will be determined through each institution’s Student Code of Conduct or campus human resource policies.

Georgia Southern University does not yet have a plan in place yet, but Chief Michael Russell, director of public safety, expressed possible ways he sees it carried out.

“The best policies are policies that everybody can and will go along with. If you create a policy that is just a hard policy then it’s really hard to get folks to go along with it,” Russell said. “To me, it was the right thing to do to put off the effective date so folks could formulate policies and put in a good bit of input and those that use tobacco could maybe possibly stop or seek other avenues.”

Russell is currently undecided on whether he thinks his officers being involved in enforcing the ban would be the best practice.

“I’ll guarantee you that we’ll get calls on it. We enforce other policies so it’s highly likely for us to get calls on it so we’re going to have to be involved in it,” Russell said.

At a Chiefs Conference in late February, enforcement options were discussed since it seemed obvious that tobacco-free campuses across the state was the direction the Board of Regents was headed, Russell said.

Russell said he doesn’t think it will be difficult to implement the policy halfway through the fall semester.

“I think we should start with it in the fall as far as the education portion. It should be communicated very well. I don’t think it would be proper to not do anything, to just sit on it and then, boom October first, no smoking, ” Russell said.

Garrett Green, president of Student Government Association, is unsure as of yet what the general student feeling will be about the ban.

Green said,“I’m honestly not sure what the student reactions will be. It will probably depend on enforcement. The policy hasn’t been created yet so it depends on what is decided. It’s important to explain it to students at orientation and talk to the students already here about it.”