Breaking down the details of the tobacco ban

Will Peebles

As Georgia Southern University students return to campus, The University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ policy restricting tobacco on USG campuses has already begun.

The policy bans almost every form of nicotine on all USG campuses, including GSU. The ban includes dip, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes, vaporizers and clove cigarettes.

The Board of Regents’ deadline for policy enforcement was originally set for Oct. 1, but in an effort to avoid an awkward transition from smoking to non-smoking, GSU began enforcement on Aug. 1.

“We chose Aug. 1 intentionally for a lot of reasons. Mostly, we wanted to go ahead and get it going before everybody came back to campus. We chose Aug. 1 also because, for all new freshmen coming on campus, we didn’t want to have them come on campus and then after they’re here for a month say ‘oh, by the way you can’t smoke anymore,’” University President Brooks Keel said.

What it means for you:

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WHERE YOU CAN’T SMOKE:

  • All Georgia Southern Campus Buildings and Grounds
  • All Georgia Southern Parking Lots
  • Administration Building
  • All Georgia Southern Dorms and Apartments
  • Campus Pedestrium
  • Campus Bus Stops
  • Allen E. Paulson Stadium and Grounds
  • Georgia Southern Golf Course
  • Coastal Georgia Center – Savannah
  • Herty – Savannah

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ITEMS THAT ARE NOW BANNED:

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  • Cigars
  • Cigarettes
  • Pipes
  • Hookahs
  • All forms of smokeless tobacco (dip, chewing tobacco, pouches)
  • Clove cigarettes
  • Smoking devices such as vaporizers or electronic cigarettes

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WHAT THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA IS SAYING:

“The purpose of the policy is to create a health-supporting community for everyone, tobacco-users and non-users alike. The new policy also supports the right of all people on university system campuses to breathe smoke-free air. The simple reason for our policy is respect for each other and the environment. We hope that smokers who choose to continue smoking will respect our smoke-free environment out of concern for their fellow campus community members,” USG states on their website.”

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WHAT GSU IS SAYING:

“As a higher institute of education, bringing awareness to personnel on the importance of having a tobacco-free environment will play a major role in enforcing this policy. In addition, the University will bring awareness through signage, electronic messaging, events and other marketing. Lastly, it is the responsibility of everyone at Georgia Southern to kindly inform others of the Tobacco-Free campus policy and ask that they stop using tobacco products on campus,” GSU states on their website.”

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WHAT GSU TELLS YOU TO SAY TO SMOKERS:

GSU’s website encourages approaching anyone violating the smoking ban on campus and politely asking them to stop. They provide the following statement as an example:

“Hi, I just wanted to make you aware that Georgia Southern is a tobacco-free campus. All types of tobacco products are prohibited on campus. We would appreciate if you abide by our policy and not use tobacco products while here. Thank you for your cooperation.”

For those that are uncomfortable approaching someone smoking on campus, there is an online incident report form to report individuals in violation of the ban. This form can be found on the tobacco-free area of GSU’s website.

WHAT YOU MAY ASK:

Don’t I have the right to choose what goes into my body? Isn’t this America?

Yes, this is still America, and you still have the right to choose to use tobacco, unless you’re on USG property. This means that all dorms will be non-smoking areas, including upperclassmen housing. There will be no smoking allowed at tailgates or athletic events.

GSU’s website says:

“Tobacco and its usage is completely legal for adults above the age of 18. The USG is not forcing anyone to quit. However, the university system owns campus properties, and can establish policies that protect the health of all university system members. A tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it merely establishes where use can occur.”

What if I do decide to smoke on campus? What are they going to do about it?

If a student is reported by someone for using any of the banned products, they will be contacted by the office of student conduct, and as GSU’s tobacco banwebsite states: “Continuing violations may also result in appropriate disciplinary action under the Georgia Southern University Student Conduct Code.”

President Keel spoke on enforcement in a recent interview:

“The real issue in doing something like this is enforcement. We’re not going to have any tobacco cops going around on Segways writing people tickets, I just don’t see that happening. For one thing, our cops have much better things to be doing with their time and more important things to do with their time.”

Why are dip and chewing tobacco banned too? That’s not bothering anyone else, right?

Smokeless tobacco was included in the ban because it contains nicotine.USG’s website said this about the reasoning behind the decision:

“The reason this is more than just a smoke-free policy is because even the rates of smokeless tobacco are increasing within the state of Georgia. For more information view the Georgia Department of Public Health study.”

 Why are electronic cigarettes banned? Aren’t they a cessation technique?

The USG website states:

“Electronic cigarette use is found to be highest among college students. While it may be used as an aid to quit smoking, it still is a source of addictive nicotine and it has not been regulated or studied enough to support claims of use for tobacco cessation. For more information about poisoning related to e-cigarettes view the CDC study.”

The CDC study referenced on USG’s website cites that there has been a dramatic increase in calls regarding poisoning from e-cigarette liquid in recent years. 51.1 percent of these calls involved children under the age of 5 accidentally ingesting the liquid by swallowing, inhalation or absorption through the skin or eyes.

HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? WANT TO SHARE YOUR OPINION?

George-Anne Opinions Editor: [email protected]

GSU tobacco ban committee: [email protected]

You can also share your opinion through The George-Anne Facebook page or on twitter at @thegeorgeanne.