The university system does not have data on how many of its students smoke or use tobacco products.
About 70 per cent of college students nationwide reported that they had never smoked in the past three years of surveys conducted by the American College Health Association. In the most recent survey completed this spring, almost 14 per cent of students reported smoking cigarettes within the previous 30 days.
Hopkins already has support for his proposal from incoming Regents chairman Philip Wilheit. Wilheit, president of a packaging products company headquartered in Gainesville, implemented a tobacco ban at his office three years ago. It was a smart financial decision, he said.
“I think it is the wave of the future,” he said. “I think as regents we have a responsibility to our students to do what’s best for them and their health.”
Various schools within the university system already have some sort of smoking or tobacco ban. Some schools outlaw all tobacco products, and others allow students to smoke in designated areas that are specified distances from common areas.
Wilheit is unsure how the ban would be implemented at outdoor athletic facilities. Some facilities already have tobacco policies in place. All areas of the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium are tobacco-free, and smoking also is prohibited in Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium.
But one thing Wilheit isn’t for: designated smoking areas. “I think that is like being a little bit pregnant,” he said. And what about those students, like Bass, who say they’re adults and ought to be able to do what they want? “They can do what they want, but they can’t do it on our campuses,” Hopkins said.
Outside the university system, higher education institutions vary on their tobacco policies. Emory implemented a full tobacco ban last year, while Clark Atlanta University allows smoking in some designated outdoor areas.