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Enforcement of Southern Miss' New Smoking Policy Takes Effect Jan. 17

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The University of Southern Mississippi will begin enforcing its new smoking policy on Jan. 17. (Office of University Communications photo by David Tisdale)

Enforcement of The University of Southern Mississippi’s new smoking policy on its Hattiesburg campus will begin Jan. 17, the first day of the 2012 spring semester, with new signage in place indicating where smoking is permitted.

The new policy was initiated in the fall semester, but enforcement of fines for those who violate the policy was scheduled for the spring 2012 semester to allow time to educate members of the Hattiesburg campus community about the initiative. Violators are subject to a minimum fine of $50 through the University Police Department (UPD) and other designated authorities, including those in the Department of Residence Life. 

Only faculty, staff or students are subject to the fine, and repeat offenders may be subject to further disciplinary actions. Visitors to campus should be politely reminded of the policy and asked to leave if they fail to comply. Smoking is allowed on the Hattiesburg campus only in specific locations: online map / PDF.

“UPD officers will have the authority to address any violations they witness with a warning or written citation for violation of a campus policy,” said University Police Chief Bob Hopkins. “Visitors who may be found in violation will be made aware of the policy and locations that are identified as smoking areas on campus.”

During the fall 2011 semester, Student Health Services encouraged those who do smoke to give up the habit through its promotion and facilitation of smoking cessation programs. The idea for the policy was broached by the Southern Miss Student Government Association and later received backing from faculty, staff and administrators. Information about enforcement of the policy will also be made available to those returning to campus for the spring 2012 semester.

“We had positive feedback from our educational outreach about the policy in the fall, and we’re looking forward to seeing positive outcomes in the way of a more healthy campus,” said Jodi Ryder, Southern Miss health education and promotion coordinator. “Hopefully, this policy will inspire those who smoke to consider quitting.”

 Key provisions of the policy include:

  • Tobacco use banned inside all university facilities, buildings and vehicles
  • Greek Life housing must establish their own smoking areas at least 15 feet from entries
  • Advertisement, distribution and sale of tobacco products are banned from all university campuses and publications
  • Tampering with, moving or damaging receptacles and signage in the smoking zones is prohibited
  • Littering of tobacco-related products will be considered a violation of the policy
  • Fines will fund the cost of tobacco cessation and education materials
  • Campus maps indicating tobacco use areas will be distributed

Those advocating the policy cited a 2006 Surgeon General’s report that noted exposure to secondhand smoke can cause disease and premature death in children and non-smoking adults as just one of the reasons to take action. The Environmental Protection Agency also estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 nonsmoker lung cancer deaths per year (http://www.epa.gov/smokefree/healtheffects.html).

For more information about The University of Southern Mississippi’s new smoking policy, online visit http://www.usm.edu/student-health-services/smoking-policy