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Up in smoke on campus

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From page A6 | January 08, 2014 | 6 Comments

The issue: UC, CSU systems clear the air for the new year

UC Davis students returned to class this week to find some big changes afoot. Beginning on Jan. 1, the entire University of California system, along with California State University campuses, went 100 percent tobacco-free.

THAT MEANS NO smoking, no chewing, no dipping and none of those new electronic cigarettes, either. The policy applies all across the UCD campus, indoors and out, and in off-campus buildings owned by the university, and even in moving cars. Indoor smoking has been forbidden for a long time, but the new rules give smokers nowhere to light up.

The policy has been almost two years in the making, since former UC President Mark Yudof announced the goals in January 2012. Since then, all five UC medical centers have gone smoke-free, as well as the UCLA and UC San Francisco campuses. Now, the other campuses have caught up. UCD created a website — http://breathefree.ucdavis.edu — with information on the policy and tips on quitting smoking. UC Riverside spent $50,000 in promotional events and materials as the lights-out date loomed.

CSU Chancellor Timothy White has expressed support for a systemwide prohibition of tobacco products, but it’s been a campus-by-campus decision so far. The Fullerton and San Diego campuses instituted bans for the new year.

Enforcement will be with a light touch, focusing on education. UCD’s online news site, Dateline, said those caught smoking on campus will get information about the policy, plus access to campus resources to help quitting. This is the right approach — the goal is healthier campuses, not a systemwide detention hall. We hope the threatened “additional reinforcement measures” won’t be necessary.

It’s the same at San Diego State; spokesman Greg Block assured students that police won’t be handing out tickets.

YOLO COUNTY’S health officer, Dr. Constance Caldwell, detailed last month an alarming increase in teen smoking rates. Between 2007 and 2011, Yolo teenagers more than doubled their rate of smoking. Smokers tend to start young, so any increase at this age will have ripple effects into the future.

“If our youth begin smoking in increased numbers,” Caldwell said, “we will see this continue into adulthood.”

This is why college smoking is so critical. Out of their parents’ homes, and newly able to buy tobacco legally, college students are primed to begin a lifelong habit. By cutting down use at universities, we can put the brakes on a worrisome trend.

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Discussion | 6 comments

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  • Alan MillerJanuary 08, 2014 - 12:56 pm

    This is ridiculous. In the 60's, all we wanted was a place to eat in a restaurant without tobacco smoke. This happened and was welcome. Now, tobacco smokers have been demonized. I am for smoke free workplaces, eating places, etc. along with courtesy towards anyone not wishing to be exposed to smoke. This sort of ban "without enforcement" will be like the 55mph speed limit. Not practical, not enforced, not enforceable.

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 08, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    I agree that this is over the top. I hate smoking but I don't support the continued assault on personal freedoms, especially when they can be reasonably exercised without a negative impact on others. I read something in the Enterprise that stated that somewhere in the Berkeley area, the government was trying to prevent people from smoking in their own single family homes. That is lunacy, but where more likely for lunacy to start than in Berkeley?

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  • Alan MillerJanuary 08, 2014 - 2:01 pm

    Imagine if this trend continues . . . it could become illegal for people to smoke marijuana in there own homes!

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 08, 2014 - 6:11 pm

    Nah, I don't things would ever go that far!

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  • S.TrotterJanuary 08, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    This is not about limiting folks so called 'freedoms.' It is about addiction to a drug which is extremely detrimental to a person's health, and also to any person within breathing distance of the smoke. Education on this subject is hardly widespread, especially by parents or friends who are smokers themselves. The University is an excellent starting point for educating smokers, but with youths starting to smoke at an earlier age, and the addictive quality of tobacco, it may be too little, too late.

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 09, 2014 - 8:41 am

    I agree that non-smokers should not be exposed to smoke. I don't think it's unreasonable to have designated smoking areas, or, as in town, have it be so many feet from a building. This is about limiting personal freedom, especially the attempt I cited about trying to keep people from smoking in their own homes. You state that it is about addiction to a detrimental drug. Do you think we should outlaw alcohol? And, maybe we should outlaw football, car racing, ski racing, fatty foods. The government has gone so far as to make harsher penalties for "hate crimes". So, it seems now that the government wants to legislate not only behaviors but thoughts and attitudes. It is getting ridiculous. What is happening to what once was a great country?

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