MIAMI (CBS4) – A big welcome banner is draped across the main entrance to Florida International University in West Miami-Dade as students prepare to return to class January 10th. Also on the entry road is a sign reading, “Breathe Easy – Tobacco and Smoke Free Campus.”
FIU began enforcing a campus-wide ban on smoking and the use of tobacco products on January 1st. The ban includes: the entire campus, indoors and outdoors, and even prohibits smoking in a vehicle.
Student Laura Sastre said she thinks the ban on smoking in an automobile goes “maybe a little too far.” But Sastre was quick to add she supports the new prohibitions in general and enjoys breathing clean air – indoors and out.
Alexina Binnie agreed.
“I think it’s wonderful that other students won’t have to experience second-hand smoke,” Binnie said.
Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, FIU’s vice-president for human resources, said the school was trying to “go green” in every way.
“We really want our students to start thinking in terms of being health conscious,” Hardrick told CBS4′s Gary Nelson. “We have a beautiful campus and we want it to be a good environment for our students, staff and constituents.”
The university may be preaching to the choir. A CBS4 News crew spent several hours on campus Friday and did not see a smoker.
“I personally don’t have any friends who do smoke,” student Cindy Fernandez said.
The university will offer the smokers that are left help quitting smoking, including stop-smoking support groups and discounted prices for nicotine patches and gum.
At the campus convenience store, clerk Shirley Amie proudly declared, “We don’t sell cigarettes, never have.” She welcomed the blanket smoking ban.
“I love the idea. I’m a non-smoker, myself, so I prefer not to have the smoke around me,” Amie said.
The university said violators will be asked to extinguish their smokes for the first six months of the smoking ban. After that, students could be subject to formal discipline.
Restrictions against tobacco use are not new on college campuses. The NCAA, in 1994, banned athletes from chewing, dipping or smoking tobacco, according to Yusila Ramirez, an FIU spokesperson.
FIU becomes the second state university in Florida to enact a campus-wide, indoor/outdoor tobacco prohibition.
The University of Florida in Gainesville snuffed out smoking anywhere in Gator Nation on June 30th.
With tobacco increasingly falling out of favor, more schools are expected to follow.