University of Tampa joins list of schools with 'smoking zones'

9:01 AM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- After pushing for four years, a student group's plan to limit smoking to designated areas at the University of Tampa has been approved.

You can leave your tape measure at home if you're a smoker heading onto campus at UT in Hyde Park this Fall.

The private college's existing smoking policy -- which was not strictly enforced -- had allowed smoking only outside and only 25 feet from doors and windows.

Starting in August, there will be no measuring; smokers will have to head to one of four smoking zones spread across the campus.

Smokers will now be isolated at the school, but the university itself will be less isolated as it joins a growing nationwide trend of learning institutions that are outlawing or sharply limiting tobacco use.

More than 1,000 American colleges and universities have completely banned smoking on their campuses, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

That number includes 35 college campuses in Florida. Hillsborough Community College's five campuses and three satellite locations joined that list by going 100 percent tobacco-free on January 1st of this year.

Several more Florida schools have established limited smoking areas, including the University of South Florida. When it implemented the smoking zones about a year ago, USF gave three main reasons:

- Reduce the risk of secondhand smoke and its health risks to members of the USF community.
- Promote overall wellness for the USF community.
- Create a more attractive campus by containing the waste from smoking products to manageable areas."

The student group Breathe-Easy UT started pushing for a new policy at the University of Tampa four years ago.

That means by the time school administrators approved the group's proposal this week to limit smoking, some of the early leaders of the movement had already graduated.

Anyone caught smoking won't face direct punishment, according to UT leaders quoted by the Minaret school newspaper.

Instead, specially trained students and staff will hand over a map of the smoking areas on campus and steer the smoker toward the nearest one.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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