Shelby: Teen smoking has decreased dramatically in the past few years, but the debate over school smoking laws is still hot. Maggie Rulli has the story.
Maggie: Students at Auburn University in Alabama are talking about the new smoking ban on their campus.
Student: I think it makes it safer for the environment and it, you know, helps the air stay fresher.
Student: I don’t smoke, personally myself, but other people smoking doesn’t really bother me.
Maggie: Starting today, the first day of the fall semester, smoking will be completely banned on any Auburn-owned property. But there are some exceptions.
Eric Smith: In your own personal vehicles, even if they’re parked on campus – be it in a parking lot or parking garage, as long as the windows are rolled up.
Maggie: Eric Smith is the director of Health Promotion and Wellness at the university and he says the policy will even apply on game days.
Smith: The inside of the stadium is where things are really controlled, and it’s my understanding that athletics will be phasing the policy in over time.
Maggie: And the number of campuses with bans like this continues to grow. According to the advocacy group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, there are more than 1,000 campuses with 100% smoking bans. And over 800 of those schools have bans on all forms of tobacco products.
And for young people, a new study says that cigarette smoking has hit the lowest point ever recorded among American eighth graders, high school sophomores and high school seniors. Over the past twenty years, teen smoking has dropped by half, from almost 40% in the mid-‘90s to about 20%, or one in five teens, today.
Reasons for the drop? Some experts say it could be the smoke-free policies many states and cities are adopting, the rise in cigarette taxes, and they also credit changes in cigarette advertising.
But some people that live or work on campus at Auburn worry that the new smoking ban could actually end up hurting the university.
Student: If you do smoke and you pay for where you live, then I don’t see how you can be told that you couldn’t smoke, you know, where you live. Where, you know, it’s supposed to be your home.
Maggie: There won’t be fines or tickets given out to those smoking on campus. Instead, university officials are relying on people to voluntarily follow the rules, and they expect a major change like this to take time.
Smith: My real hope is no one rushes to judge the policy a success or a failure based on the first couple weeks.
Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.