Tech prepares for USG Tobacco Policy

Photo by Brenda Lin

On October 1, 2014, the Tobacco and Smoke-Free Campus Policy will go in effect at Tech. The Board of Regents  approved the policy in March and is effective for all 31 public institutions in the University System.

This policy applies to all who step foot on campus—students, faculty, visitors, vendors, visiting athletes—and includes all products that contain tobacco including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.

All land owned by Tech is included in this ban, so people cannot smoke in cars if they are parked on campus. In addition, according to Rachael Pocklington of Institution Communications, the institute is also asking for the Greek community—whose properties are not owned by the Institute—to participate in the policy.

The Institute plans to use “Enforcement Light” to enact the policy.

“That’s just a model that relies on community support, not like direct action necessarily,” said Justin Eisenberg, Vice President of Campus Organizations in SGA. “So infractions will be handled for faculty through their direct managers and for students through the Office of Student Integrity (OSI) as needed the same way as any other kind of policy violation.”

The campus community as a whole will be responsible for upholding the policy through several channels, such as faculty, building managers and Housing, according to Pocklington.

While OSI will adjudicate infractions of the tobacco policy by students on most areas of campus, violations on campus housing will be handled through Housing’s separate disciplinary system.

“We’ll just treat it like another judicial case so you’ll keep getting documented [and have to attend] a conduct meeting,” said Mandy Garcia, housing director of the Harrison, Howell, and Cloudman housing complex.

According to Georgia Tech Police Captain Randy Barrone, GTPD will not be responsible for enforcement of the tobacco policy.

“Like any other campus policy, GTPD will not be involved unless behavior disrupts the peace or violates law,” Barrone said.

Another measure that administrators are taking is to better communicate the policy.

“One thing we’re doing is… to make sure to follow all the international symbols and so there shouldn’t be [questions about the policy],” said JulieAnne Williamson, Assistant Vice President for Administration and Finance.

Signs reminding students of the policy will be placed on buildings, yard signs and posters. Many campus Housing buildings have also begun to display posters.

The Institute is also covering the many ashtrays on campus to avoid sending mixed messages about the tobacco policy.

Stamps Health Services will offer services to support smokers who want to quit and those who do not.

Beginning in September, a certified American Lung Association professional will teach a smoking cessation class and students will be able to meet with health services to quite smoking.

“We understand that tobacco use is an addiction and we recognize that not everyone is ready or willing to quit,” said Vladimir Oge, Director of Health Promotion.

Tech students have mixed opinions regarding this new policy.  According to a survey conducted in February, there was a 47.43 percent to 48.27 percent split between respondents who support and oppose the ban, respectively.

Most respondents felt strongly about the policy with 32.45 percent of students strongly supporting the ban and 32.51 percent strongly opposing it.

“I think it’s kind  of harsh to put a ban on everyone… it might be better to have maybe some designated smoking spots,” said Ho-Kyung Kim, a third year CHBE. “A lot of people…. use smoking as a way to relax and socialize.  Yes, smoking is bad for you but I think since it’s their choice, why not give some spots [or] areas where they can smoke in peace without harming others?”