USM pushes smoke-free campus
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 23:09
Since the start of the semester, students and faculty are starting to take notice of the recent changes in the smoking policy at the University of Southern Mississippi. Smoking locations were updated over the summer with the help of the Physical Plant and Student Health Services, according to Student Government Association Vice President Allie Solomon. According to Student Health Services, the designated smoking areas were changed to avoid areas such as the Thad Cochran Center and the Administration Building.
Many have questioned the enforcement of the smoking policy, but staff wanted to give students time to adjust to the new smoking areas on campus this semester.
“There is more seating available now,” Solomon said. “The west half of LAB’s patio is now a smoking zone.
However, Solomon still sees students smoking in non-smoking areas.
“UPD officers know all of the new locations,” Solomon said. “When students moved in this year, they were informed of the smoking policies and will receive a $50 citation if caught smoking.”
Since the zones have changed, it is up to the officers to decide on consequences for the smoker, according to University Police Department Chief Bob Hopkins. Hopkins said several things can happen, such as a warning or a citation for violating the smoking policy.
With the designated smoking areas in effect, students and faculty might be curious to know what direction Southern Miss is going with the smoking policy.
“I see us leading up to a smoke-free campus,” Hopkins said.
Solomon agreed and said that was how the smoking policy was written and intended.
“Mississippi State was already a smoke-free campus, and they didn’t give their students a choice,” Solomon said.
Since there have been so many health issues related to smoking and secondhand smoke, the administration at USM has seen the smoking policy make a positive impact on their students.
Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Paul said it is a big goal to be a smoke-free campus.
“It is our ultimate wish, but it’s about a culture change,” Paul said. “Among our students are healthy minds and healthy bodies moving this community to be ‘thought’ leaders and model those values and causes that can improve our society.”
As for the enforcement on the smoking policy, Paul wants to eventually transition to a smoke-free campus because of the overall health of the students.
“The next step to a smoke-free campus would be where rules enforce themselves,” Paul said.
For more information on the designated smoking areas, a copy of the smoking area map is located in Student Health Services.