ASU planning campus-wide smoking ban

PHOENIX (AP) — Smokers who attend or work at Arizona State University will soon find no place to light up, as the university plans to ban smoking everywhere on its properties beginning next August.

Officials with the state's largest public university briefed faculty leaders this week about their plan, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/Twdkuz ). ASU plans to formally announce its decision next month.

Kevin Salcido, the university's chief human resource officer, told the faculty Academic Senate that ASU considers smoking a health and safety issue.

"The hope is those who desire to quit smoking or desire to quit chewing tobacco will take the opportunity to do that," Salcido told the professors.

ASU has 73,000 students at campuses in Tempe, Glendale, downtown Phoenix and Mesa, and already bans smoking indoors or within 25 feet of building entrances.

Student groups began lobbying the administration to prohibit tobacco on campus in 2009, but others oppose it, calling such efforts overreaching.

The University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have not announced smoking bans, but Maricopa Community Colleges banned tobacco in July.

College spokesman Andrew Tucker said repeat offenders can face discipline under the student code of conduct but added the goal is to educate people about the policy and create a healthy environment.

Tucker said violations of the policy aren't being monitored systematically so he was unable to say whether anyone had been disciplined.

The policy has been unpopular with some students. In March, students protested at one of the Maricopa colleges. The same group is gearing up for a similar event at ASU.

ASU Students for Liberty is against a tobacco ban because they believe the policy takes away student choices at a public institution.

"We believe it's a nanny mentality. The busybodies want to regulate people's personal lives," said ASU senior Carlos Alfaro, 22, an executive-board member for the group.

Chad Williams, a former smoker and former ASU student who spearheaded efforts for a tobacco-free campus in 2009, said he believes a tobacco-free campus will maximize personal liberty for all students.

Bans are controversial because students and employees spend several hours a day on campus and either have to refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco during that time or leave campus to do so. Depending on where a person is on the Tempe campus, for instance, that could mean a lengthy walk. For the smaller Phoenix campus, it would be a shorter distance.

Salcido said the ASU plans to formally announce the tobacco-free policy several months ahead of when it is scheduled to go into effect to give people advance notice. ASU also will offer information and educational programs for people who want to quit tobacco use.

Students or employees who repeatedly violate the ban could face discipline.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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