Posted on April 12, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Friday, Apr 12 at 10:39 PM
Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl
NEW ORLEANS - By next year, lighting up will no longer be allowed on Tulane's campus, making it the state’s first private university to go tobacco-free, Tulane officials said. .
The university senate voted to ban tobacco products starting in August of 2014.
“Our primary goal is to make everyone a little bit healthier, so I think by reducing exposure to second hand smoke we do that,” said Scott Tims, Tulane’s director of Wellness and Health Promotion. “I think by limiting areas a lot of our students may not start smoking.”
You'll find similar rules at roughly 300 other institutes of higher education in North America, said Tims.
A little more than 20 percent of students describe themselves as social smokers, lighting up only with peers, said Tims. About 10 percent of students smoke daily.
The idea of banning tobacco is a drag for some current and former students.
"A lot of people are fairly stressed. It's a stressful environment with classes and what not. Having to go off campus just to smoke a cigarette is kind of ridiculous,” said former student and smoker Brandon Canizaro.
“If you're 18 and you have the legal ability to smoke, then you should be able to do it on campus,” said Catherine Ann Taylor, a non-smoker and Tulane freshman.
Others say the ban is a breath of fresh air.
“Honestly, I find it really unappealing if I pass by someone and they're smoking and I don't think it's a huge population at Tulane that does,” said sophomore Nikki Heimberg. “And it really is selfish because you're affecting everyone around you.”
Tulane isn't' the only university in Louisiana that could see a smoking ban. The legislature will take up a bill Wednesday that would ban smoking at all public campuses.
“By banning smoking on college campuses, what we will do, we will decrease the amount of new smokers that enter into smoking every year,” said Senator David Heitmeier, D- New Orleans, who authored the bill.
Tulane University plans to phase in the ban slowly to allow for an educational campaign. The university also plans to beef up free programs to help people quit.
“We're not anti-smoker, we're just wanting to improve the health of the whole community,” said Tims.
Penalties will go into effect January of 2015.
If caught first time offenders will get a verbal warning. Repeat offenders could get a $25 fine.