Tobacco use would be banned on all the state’s public college and university campuses under a policy the state Board of Regents is set to discuss at its monthly meeting Wednesday. If the Regents adopt the policy, the ban would take effect July 1.
The so-called “Tobacco and Smoke-Free Campus Policy” would prohibit tobacco use on University System of Georgia property, which includes the campuses of UGA and 30 other public colleges and universities. The Board of Regents is the appointed body that sets policy for Georgia public colleges, the country’s fourth-largest university system.
The ban would apply not only to cigars, cigarettes and pipes. It would also bar the use of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and hookahs. Even electronic cigarettes, which allow users to inhale a nicotine mist without actually lighting up, might get banned.
The tobacco ban would be total in other ways as well.
Tobacco use would be prohibited not only on property owned by the university system, but property it leases or rent.
Tobacco use would be prohibited in vehicles on the campus, and the ban would apply not only to students, faculty and staff, but to contractors, spectators at sporting events and to other campus visitors.
Other Athens area colleges and schools banned smoking years ago.
Gainesville State College (now the largest part of the University of North Georgia) outlawed lighting up in 2003, and when the college expanded to a satellite campus in Watkinsville, the ban followed.
Piedmont College prohibited smoking on campus in 2007.
A number of other area institutions have also enacted rules against lighting up on their grounds, including the Athens-Clarke County Library, area hospitals and the Clarke County School District, which adopted a rule years ago that banned not only tobacco use but possession of tobacco products on school grounds.
Athens Technical College adopted a smoking ban in 2009.
UGA administrators tightened up smoking rules in 2011, but stopped short of a total ban. A rule promulgated that year barred lighting up within 35 feet of a building entrance.
Smoking is prohibited in public buildings by state law, and is banned in Sanford Stadium and other UGA athletic facilities under UGA Athletic Association policy.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of avoidable death in the United States, causing more deaths annually than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries and firearm-related incidents combined, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.