From staff reports
The University System of Georgia (USG) announced a new Tobacco and Smoke-Free Campus policy Wednesday, March 19, as approved by the Board of Regents.
The stated goal is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of students, employees and any persons occupying USG campuses.
All USG institutions, including Georgia College, will be completely tobacco and smoke-free effective Oct. 1, 2014.
“Our aim with this policy is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of employees and any persons occupying USG facilities,” said Marion Fedrick, the USG's vice chancellor for Human Resources.
According to the Board of Regents, the overall policy follows the lead of more than half of all USG institutions that already are tobacco and/or smoke free.
In the 2014 report from the Surgeon General, Assistant Secretary for Health and Safety Howard Koh said cigarette-smoking remains “the chief preventable killer in America.”
“The University System recognizes these serious health implications and feels it's our responsibility to promote the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Fedrick said.
GC Director for Health and Social Issues Dr. Jim Lidstone said the decision is a “great thing and long overdue.”
A school press release said Georgia College's Housing Office will eliminate designated smoking areas adjacent to residence halls at the beginning of the semester, effective on move-in day, Aug. 14.
The policy states that the use of all forms of tobacco products is prohibited on property owned, leased, rented, in the possession of, or in any way used by the USG or its affiliates. The use of tobacco products will also be prohibited in all vehicles — private or public vehicles — located on USG properties.
This applies to all persons who enter the areas previously described, including but not limited to students, faculty, staff, contractors and subcontractors, spectators and visitors. All events hosted by a USG entity or by outside groups on behalf of the USG must be tobacco-free.
Tobacco products are defined as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and any other smoking devices that use tobacco, such as hookahs or electronic cigarettes.
The overall enforcement and authority of this policy lies with the president, who may determine an exception, of each USG institution, but it is also a shared community responsibility, which means all students, faculty and staff share in the responsibility to help keep the campus tobacco-free, according to a Georgia College press release.
Violations of the policy will be handled under the Student Code of Conduct or campus human resource policies. Visitors refusing to comply with the policy may be asked to leave campus.
Signage to help inform the campus community and visitors will be placed throughout affected school properties.
The Board of Regents will make tobacco cessation information, educational material and other wellness resources available to assist employees. Georgia College will also provide Smoking Cessation Program resources for students, faculty and staff.