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Georgia Board of Regents votes to make state’s college campuses tobacco-free

No tobacco rule will go into effect on Oct. 1

ATLANTA — The Georgia Board of Regents on Wednesday voted to create a policy that will prohibit the use of all forms of tobacco products on property owned, leased, rented or in the possession of the University System of Georgia (USG).

The policy applies to all employees, students, contractors, subcontractors and visitors and is applicable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also, all events hosted by a University System entity or on behalf of the University System shall be tobacco and smoke free, according to the policy.

The policy will go into effect on Oct. 14.

“Our aim with this policy is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of employees and any persons occupying USG facilities,” said Marion Fedrick, the USG’s vice chancellor for Human Resources.

The overall policy follows the lead of more than half of all USG institutions that already are tobacco and/or smoke free.

In the 2014 report from the Surgeon General, Assistant Secretary for Health and Safety Howard Koh stated, “Cigarette smoking remains the chief preventable killer in America, with more than 40 million Americans caught in a web of tobacco dependence.”

Fedrick said, “The University System recognizes these serious health implications and feels it’s our responsibility to promote the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Research is a core mission of the University System and would provide the only exception to the policy. Any such exception, according to the policy, would be determined by the president of the institution.

While enforcement of the policy is also the responsibility of the president of the institution, the policy notes that it is also a shared community responsibility. Violations of the policy will be handled under the Student Code of Conduct or campus human resource policies. Visitors refusing to comply with the policy may be asked to leave campus.

The University System, along with campuses, will provide information on tobacco cessation for those seeking assistance. Resources for tobacco cessation can be found on the USG Workplace Wellness website at http://www.usg.edu/wellness.