SSU adopts tobacco-free policy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SSU adopts tobacco-free policy

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

All schools within the University System of Georgia will be transitioning into tobacco-free campuses by Oct. 1 of this year.

Locally, Armstrong State adopted the policy in Aug. of 2012, Georgia Southern University started at the beginning of this month, and now, Savannah State University will adopt the policy starting next month.

Including smokeless tobacco products, the university said the ultimate goal is to make the campus a healthier place.

The ban includes all forms of tobacco: cigarettes, chewing tobacco and even e-cigarettes.

Students seem to have mixed opinions about it.

"Personally, I don't like smoke. And after I've seen what smoke does to lungs, and it doesn't smell too good either," student Fredrick Barnes said.

"They're changing the rules for some people, but they're not thinking about the people who actually do smoke tobacco. So we have to go all the way off campus to smoke when we've got multiple areas on campus where we can just smoke," student Inari Gates said.

Under the new policy, the use of all tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars and smokeless forms, will not be allowed anywhere on campus. 

For those who sell e-cigarettes, they're saying there is actually no tobacco in the devices and it can actually help someone trying to stop the habit.

"To lump it into a system where they're just saying no tobacco is just kind of ridiculous to me because what's going to happen is they are using this to help quit smoking," Vapors Smoke Shop owner Jordan Lance said. "It's helping them gradually quit smoking, and if they don't have it then they're going to fall back on cigarettes. So then they are going to have a bigger problems keeping tobacco off campus."

They won't even be allowed in cars if they're parked on campus.

"Even if they had areas where we could just smoke, that would be fine. I don't think that's right," Gates said.

Earlier this year, University System of Georgia Board of Regents adopted the new policy, requiring all institutions within the system to make the transition by Oct. 1, and while the ban will help lower insurance premiums, campus officials said the ultimate goal is to make campus a healthier environment.

"This is an initiative that really has two purposes. One is that we are trying to eliminate second hand smoke from people who don't smoke, and the health effects associated with that. But we're also trying to create a healthier campus for those who do use tobacco products," Joe Steffen said.

Campus officials said that Sept. 1 date will be more of a soft opening, reminding people not to smoke and providing resources to help them quit. Afterwords, the consequences will be handled through student affairs just like any other student conduct violation.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved. 

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