University considers proposal to be tobacco free
A SEVEN-MEMBER COMMITTEE has recommended that Furman adopt a tobacco-free policy beginning with the 2014-15 academic year. The proposal, if approved, would prohibit the use of all forms of tobacco, including smokeless products, on university property.
The group, chaired by Jeff Redderson, associate vice president for facilities services, began studying the issue last year after the university received complaints about exposure to secondhand smoke. The committee included representatives from the faculty, administrative staff and student body.
Redderson says that roughly 15 percent of faculty and staff and 5 percent of students reported using tobacco products more than three times per week.
The university banned smoking in all campus buildings in 1993. The ban was extended in 2007 to include smoking within 25 feet of building entrances. Students were still allowed to smoke on the balconies of residence halls.
A series of forums will likely be held this fall to gather input on the proposed policy change, says Redderson.
Among institutions of higher learning in South Carolina, Charleston Southern, Converse, Lander, Medical University of South Carolina, Southern Wesleyan, University of South Carolina-Upstate, York Technical Collage and Piedmont Technical College have banned all forms of tobacco use on their campuses, and Clemson University has formed a committee to study the matter. More than 825 U.S. colleges and universities are tobacco free.
Redderson says research gathered by the committee indicates that healthcare costs are 40 percent higher for smokers, and that smoke-free policies on campuses help decrease tobacco consumption.
“There are many health, economic and environmental benefits from having a tobacco-free environment,” states the recommendation. “The committee recognizes that it is Furman’s responsibility to actively engage our campus community in accepting responsibility for improving our environment, beginning with our campus.”