600+ U.S. colleges going smoke-free

Jan. 7, 2012 at 7:48 PM   |   Comments

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- More than 600 U.S. colleges and universities have adopted smoking bans covering entire campuses, indoors and outdoors, a non-smokers' rights group says.

The American Nonsmokers Rights Association says 639 campus have adopted smoke-free policies with no exemptions, though some have yet to take effect.

That's a jump up from about 400 a year ago, the group says on its Web site.

Supporters say the bans promote good health and protect non-smokers, while opponents say they go too far and discriminate against smokers, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday.

Violators can face discipline ranging from warnings to expulsion or, for employees, termination, the newspaper said..

At Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the ban takes effect July 1, most violators will simply be told to put out their cigarettes, NSU officials said.

"Although we'd like people to quit, we're not saying you have to. You just can't smoke here," said Tom Vitucci, NSU's campus recreation director and leader of the smoke-free effort.

Since announcing the ban in November, NSU has been offering smoking-cessation classes to students and employees.

Vitucci says about three-quarters of students and employees surveyed said they supported the change.

George Koodray, assistant director of the Citizens Freedom Alliance, a group that advocates smokers' rights, criticized the bans.

"If you're in your car, you're not even talking about second-hand smoke. You're not affecting anyone else," Koodray said. "This is about trying to stop someone from doing something you don't approve of even when it's legal."

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