UT to implement campus smoking zones starting in August

By Paul Mueller, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another university is going nearly smoke free.

Soon, those who want to light up on the campus on the University of Tampa will only be able to do so in four designated areas.

The ban goes into effect at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic school year but beginning right away, the administration says it will not only continue to enforce the current policy but also begin to educate everyone about these four new smoking zones.

UT is Tampa’s first university after being founded in 1933.  It’s home to nearly 7,000 students but as the years have passed, times have changed.

Freshman Kevin Frey agrees that if it were 20 years ago, it would be fine to smoke anywhere on campus. 

“It was socially acceptable to smoke wherever you wanted but now it's frowned upon,” Frey said.

"It was socially acceptable so many years ago so I don't feel that it should change," Josh Bush, a fellow student agreed.

Views about smoking have influenced all of society, especially at colleges and universities, including UT, which already has a policy in place banning smoking in buildings and people may smoke at least 25 feet away from entrances and exits to those buildings.

There’s no doubt it will be a big change for some and with a new policy of four smoking zones, students’ reaction is mixed.

"I'm a huge cigarette smoker so this is kind of going to affect where I smoke my cigarettes," said Frey.

"I kind of don't like walking around people smoking because you can get second-hand smoke and I don't like it," said fellow student Marty Heyn, who believes the smoking zone policy is a good idea.

The ban includes all academic and residential buildings, athletic facilities and fields, parking garages, offices, and open spaces.

One student organization that pushed for the ban for the last four years found nearly 75% of the school community favored the smoking zone policy and more than 50% said overall health will improve if UT were to become a smoke-free campus.

UT’s Associate Dean of Wellness, Gina Firth, told Bay News 9, "Our goal is to create and promote a healthy campus that will foster teaching, learning, working and living.  This initiative will have a positive impact in many ways, including enhanced community life, improved productivity through better health and potential decreases in health care costs."

But some say the administration should be tackling what some people believe are larger problems like drugs and alcohol.

Student Josh Bush said more important issues need to be addressed.  "There's much bigger issues out there that we can focus on," Bush said.

About one in every seven UT students smoke.

The University offers programs to help smokers break the habit.

There are more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country that are already smoke free.