UPDATE 9:45 p.m. -- Starting August 1st, cigarettes, cigars and even eCigs have no place on the Louisiana Tech Campus.
The decision went in accordance with Act 211 from the 2013 Louisiana Legislative Session which calls for public post-secondary education institutions to develop smoke-free policies.
The Home of the Bulldogs went one step further, banning all tobacco products.
University officials said they made the policy after consulting with faculty, administrators and student leaders to help develop longer, healthier lives for all the Bulldog Faithful.
"And it was pretty, pretty unanimous that they felt that the tobacco-free campus policy would be in the best interest of health and safety," said David Guerin, Executive Director of University Communications.
Tobacco-free advocates say La. Tech is setting an example for others in the region.
"Delta Community College has been tobacco-free for some years now," said Region 8 Coordinator of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, Jennifer Haneline. "I know ULM is considering a policy, so hopefully now that Tech has gone ahead, Grambling just adopted a tobacco-free policy as well."
With some smoking bans, it's a distance rule where you have to stay a certain amount of feet away from a building before you can smoke, but this ban is campus-wide.
Tech students KTVE/KARD spoke to said they're in favor of the ban.
"It's great. It offers the opportunity to have less secondhand smoke to people who don't smoke," said Kinesiology Junior Devonne Smith.
"That shows that they're concerned about our health and they're worried about who we are as students and want us to be healthy. That's how I see it," echoed Business Administration Sophomore Jay Gafford.
Incoming freshman Sarah Head said the ban only cemented her excitement to begin her Bulldog career.
"It's great because I don't smoke, so I don't want to be around it and it's nice to know that I can walk wherever on campus and not have to worry about it," Head said.
But how do you enforce such a ban?
"It'll be followed by signage and some additional communication, really, the job of everybody on our campus, faculty, staff, students, we're really going to have to rely on them," said Guerin.
"Talk to somebody if I see them smoking, 'Hey, we're supposed to be smoke-free now.' Just trying to give people the heads-up," Accouting Sophomore Jared Spiller said.
Those in favor of the ban said they're not just fighting tobacco.
They're fight addictions that start in college and potentially stay for life.
"College students, if they don't start using nicotine products by the time they're through with college, the usage rates drop dramatically," Haneline said.
This policy extends not just to the campus but to all university-owned facilities, inside and out.
It applies to all students and faculty and anyone outside the school coming onto campus.
Ruston -- Effective August 1, Louisiana Tech University’s campus, instructional sites and facilities will become tobacco-free in accordance with Act 211 of the 2013 Louisiana State Legislative session which directs all public post-secondary educational institutions to develop smoke-free and/or tobacco-free policies for its campuses.
Developed by Louisiana Tech’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety and approved by the university’s Administrative and Planning Council, the new policy prohibits the use of all tobacco products, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes as well as smokeless tobacco products at all Louisiana Tech locations and university-owned or leased facilities.
“Louisiana Tech and most other state universities reviewed tobacco use on their campuses and have developed a tobacco-free policy after consultation with student leaders, faculty representatives and administrators,” said Don Braswell, director of environmental health and safety at Louisiana Tech. “We hope this policy will result in health improvements for students, faculty, employees and visitors, and a reduction in the litter on campus and associated cost of removal.”
The new tobacco-free policy applies to all Louisiana Tech faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors. Organizers and attendees of public events, such as conferences, meetings, public lectures, social events, cultural events and athletic competitions at university-owned facilities are also required to abide by the new tobacco-free policy.
Specifically, the policy will apply to areas such as the interiors of all university-owned or leased buildings, external university property and grounds including sidewalks, parking lots, recreational areas and green spaces, walkways, breezeways, patios, the inside of all state-owned vehicles, and all indoor and outdoor athletics venues and facilities.
The campus community and its visitors will be informed of the new tobacco-free policy through a variety of means including signs posted throughout the university grounds and facilities, campus-wide email communications, social media campaigns, online and printed resources such as catalogs and policy manuals, website postings and institutional trainings and programs.
Braswell and other Louisiana Tech officials stress that the success of this policy depends on the thoughtfulness, consideration and cooperation of both consumers and non-consumers of tobacco products, and that all members of the university community share in the responsibility for adhering to and enforcing the policy.
“We want for our employees, students and visitors to live long and healthy lives, and reducing the use of tobacco products is a major step in this direction,” Braswell said. “We want the Louisiana Tech University campus to be a healthy environment free from smoke, litter and harmful and objectionable irritants.”
Louisiana Tech’s University Health Center and Counseling Center will offer a range of smoking cessation and support programs and resources for members of the university community who wish to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products.
For more information on Louisiana Tech’s tobacco-free policy, contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at (318) 257-2120.
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