USF exploring partial smoking ban costs

By Divya Kumar, STAFF WRITER
On June 13, 2011

Smoking may soon be pushed to the fringes of campus, as USF administrators decide how to implement an approved partial smoking ban set for this fall.

An advisory task force appointed by USF President Judy Genshaft in January to research the possibility of implementing a smoking ban recommended a partial ban after conducting a survey of 8,200 students and faculty. The task force, which met with Genshaft last month, recommended the partial ban, determining that it would be more effective and inclusive of both smokers and non-smokers, according to its report. Genshaft approved the recommendation.

With 19 percent of the survey's respondents identifying themselves as smokers, the vocal minority was enough to prevent a complete ban, said task force chairwoman Stephanie Bryant.

"People that don't smoke were the ones more concerned with this," Genshaft said in an interview with The Oracle. "We are working on phasing it in slowly with some of the highest-smoking areas as priorities."

The report identified target areas of concern by survey respondents as the Library, Student Services breezeway and College of Business entrances. It calls for a partial ban that would prohibit smoking a minimum of 50 feet from "doorways, breezeways or other areas in which students must pass through to enter a building or common area."

Yet, some of these changes may call for monetary expenditures - something USF spokesman Michael Hoad said becomes more difficult in legislative seasons like this year, which has tightened the USF System budget.

"The University will have to look into how to implement this because it potentially has costs," he said. "This is a tough time to do anything with money."

Hoad said the entrances to the Library, as well as other entrances, may have to be remodeled to allow for a designated smoking area to be built in a location convenient to smokers, and costs are being explored.

Genshaft, who said she "hopes to see things in place" by fall, is working with Vice President of Administration Services Sandy Lovins to find the best way to implement the ban and will appoint a new task force to evaluate its progress," Bryant said.

Lovins could not be reached for comment.

USF offers free Nicotine Replacement Therapy for up to two weeks for students and faculty looking to quit smoking, along with offering lunchtime smoking cessation classes through the Wellness Center, funded through state-appropriated Area Health Education Center Tobacco Training and Cessation funds.

USF, already in compliance with the Florida Indoor Clean Air Act that prohibits smoking inside all public facilities, will join campuses such as the University of Florida and Florida International University that have adopted stricter regulations on smoking. USF Health implemented a complete ban on smoking within a 100-foot radius for all of its 19 buildings in November 2009.

Hoad said the ban's implementation requires the support of students - something the task force strived to incorporate.

"The key to success is a grassroots effort," he said. "Students need to put peer pressure on other students."

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