Starting in January, USF Tampa will be joining the ranks of universities across the nation that have banned the use of tobacco products and smoking. As of October, 1,620 colleges and universities are smoke free — 769 ban e-cigarettes — with 23 of those in Florida, according to the Tampa Tribune.
As part of the campus-wide campaign, no e-cigarettes, hookahs, chewing tobacco or other tobacco products will be permitted anywhere on campus or at school-sponsored events like sports games and graduations.
“Much like e-cigarettes, hookahs would fall under the line of smoking,” Beverly Daly, director of Environmental Health & Safety at USF, said. “Smoking, whether tobacco based or not, will be prohibited.”
The system-wide change started in 2009 when USF Health and the Moffitt Cancer Center implemented smoking bans. Currently, USF’s St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses are already smoke- and tobacco-free.
In 2011, USF President Judy Genshaft created a Tobacco Use Task Force to explore the possibility of the campus going tobacco- and smoke-free. While the task force decided the campus population wasn’t ready, it created restricted use with 24 designated smoking areas around campus and programs through Student Health Services and Student Affairs to aid in prevention.
“One of the recommendations that the task force made was that the university continue to offer programs, not only for tobacco cessation and smoking cessation, but also (for) smoking and tobacco prevention,” Daly said.
“It’s always better to keep them from ever smoking or chewing tobacco than trying to assist in the future for stopping.”
The new policy, much like the current restricted areas policy, will be peer-enforced. As stated by the written policy, any student who repeatedly refuses to abide by the policy may be considered in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and will be addressed accordingly.
“Given the large number of visitors every day, you may come across people who are smoking who may not realize the university has restricted it,” Daly said. “Please give everyone the benefit of the doubt and respectfully share that USF is now completely tobacco and smoke free, including e-cigarette use.”
In order to get the word out about the upcoming policy, the university has been working on a sign and poster campaign to ensure the community is aware of the upcoming change.
Additionally, USF is working with the Area Health Education Center to create programs that will help students and faculty become smoke-free. For those interested in tobacco cessation, usf.edu/tobaccofree also offers resources both on and off campus.
“Smoking cessation resources is a free program with up to four weeks of nicotine replacement therapy,” Daly said. “For those who wish to continue smoking, (they) will have to do it somewhere that is not on USF property or grounds.
“As of Jan. 4, Smoking, tobacco use and e-cigarettes … will not be allowed anywhere on the USF Tampa campus.”