UH Manoa campus plans total tobacco ban - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH Manoa campus plans total tobacco ban

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Smokers will need to leave campus to light up -- and even those who use electronic cigarettes will have to find someplace else -- starting next semester when a new policy goes into effect at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

There are a little more than 1,100 schools with all-out smoking bans nationwide and UH Manoa will become one of them on January 1, 2014.  The ban includes all tobacco products -- including cigars, cigarettes and the smoke-free alternative, e-cigarettes.
   
School officials say they are trying to create a healthier campus with a policy that will apply to everyone.  All students, staff, contract workers and visitors who are on campus property, even those in dorms and inside their cars, will be expected to comply. 

"If we save one life, it's all worth it," said Tom Apple, UH Manoa's Chancellor. 

Officials say the policy has faculty support and was student driven. 

"We're not nannying them in the sense where it's just because.  It's because of the fact that we want to promote long-term benefits, longer lives, healthier living," explained Richard Mizusawa, the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i President, who says the resolution passed through the undergraduate student government senate two years ago.  Since then, students and campus leadership have fine-tuned it into a policy Mizusawa believes is respectful and fair to everyone.

"We're not preventing their right to smoke, it's just when they're in this community where they're around other students who are getting impacted by second-hand smoke that's where the issue comes up," Mizusawa said.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, almost 99% of smokers start by the age of 26. Officials say campus-based bans have proven effective in preventing both the onset and use of tobacco products among young adults.

"This is a social movement to try to make a healthier campus environment and help the people who have the biggest problem with tobacco," explained Apple, adding that education opportunities and resources would be made available to help people quit. 

Students and staff Hawai'i News Now spoke to say the understand the intent, but question the implementation. 

"I think that's kind of extreme.  I think it's great for the environment, but I don't know -- it's kind of hard to tell somebody that they can't do something," said Ethan Wing, a UH Manoa Special Education grad student.
 
"I'm kind of skeptical about how well it's going to go because it's not something that's illegal, so how can you ban someone from smoking on campus and who's going to enforce that?" asked Sandra Matsumoto, a former smoker who works in the Information Technology Services Department on campus. 

Officials say there are no major consequences, though the school may consider disciplinary action with repeat offenders. 

"It's going to be a low-key, social policy that makes it un cool, if you will, to use tobacco products on campus," explained Apple, who says as a former two-pack-a-day smoker himself he understands the tension between individual liberties and the greater community interest.

"At some point you cant worry about whether things are well-received you have to ask -- are we doing the right thing? And I think we are," Apple said. 

There is one bar that serves alcohol on campus, Apple says school officials are also considering a ban on that as well. 

Four states have passed bills requiring public post-secondary institutions to implement smoke-free policies.  According to the U.S. Surgeon General, more than 1,200 people in this country die every day due to cigarette smoking. 

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