On Aug. 1, the University of West Georgia, along with every other college within the University System of Georgia, became a tobacco-free campus. This means it is now against the rules for students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus to smoke or use any tobacco products on campus. Naturally, there has been a fair amount of confusion around campus about some of the specifics of the new rule. After having been asked various questions about the new rule, Dr. Alicia Caudill, Associate Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, provided plenty of references pertaining to our tobacco-free campus.
By searching “smoking policy” from the search engine on the front page of the UWG website (westga.edu), students and faculty will be directed to section 9 of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) policy manual, titled Tobacco and Smoke Free Campus Policy. This section outlines many of the specifics pertaining to the new rule, and should be read by all tobacco users on campus. There is also a UWG tobacco-free frequently asked questions page, which can be found by clicking on the link on the front page of the UWG website, or by searching “tobacco free” from the UWG home page.
One of the main questions about this new rule is how is it going to be enforced? Who is going to be enforcing it? According to these references, it is going to be up to the fellow students, faculty and staff to keep this campus tobacco-free. The frequently asked questions page on UWG’s website states, “Overall enforcement and adherence to the tobacco free campus policy is a shared responsibility of everyone on campus. Faculty, staff and students should assist in respectfully informing those they see smoking or partaking in the use of tobacco products on campus of the tobacco free campus policy.” The web page also gives links to YouTube videos demonstrating the proper ways to approach someone who is breaking this rule respectfully and in a non-confrontational manner. If violators do not comply with someone’s request to stop smoking, they can be reported to higher-ranking officials. In the case of students, they will be sent through the student conduct process.
Some students on campus are also confused as to what all types of tobacco this rule pertains to. According to the University System of Georgia’s policy manual “tobacco products” is defined as “cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and any other smoking devices that use tobacco such as hookahs or simulate the use of tobacco such as electronic cigarettes. The policy also prohibits any advertising, sale or free sampling of tobacco products on USG properties unless specifically stated for research purposes.”
All of this means if you still want to use tobacco products on campus, you will probably get away with it, but the USG has to start somewhere, and they are starting with this format. It is not a perfect system by any means, but it is here to stay.