USF to ban smoking on most of Tampa campus
TAMPA - USF has a message for smokers: Put out your cigarette or go over there. Those who smoke at the main campus of the University of South Florida will soon be asked to do so in designated areas, away from entrances to buildings and outdoor gathering spots. Details of when and how to enforce the restrictions are still being worked out but they'll be phased in gradually, said Michael J. Hoad, vice president of communications. One thing is certain: The partial ban doesn't carry the force of Florida law, so campus police won't be ordering you to snuff it or move along.Faculty and staff offenders will be reported to their superiors. Students will be referred through the school's conduct process. But Hoard emphasizes opportunity, not punishment, in discussing the new rule. "The majority of people who smoke are attempting to quit," Hoad said. The new rule provides more incentive to do so for those who smoke among the USF Tampa community of 40,000 students and 14,500 employees. Some smokers don't quite see it that way. Jennifer Dearden, 20, who is studying psychology, feels like she should be able to smoke where she wants to. She attended a community college with a partial smoking ban and found it annoying. "I don't like being around sick people," Dearden said. "We don't have sick zones." Others say they'll live with the new rules. Robert Ebert, 53, works in maintenance and is a smoker. He doesn't mind a partial ban, figuring that walking to the smoking zones won't be a big deal. "It ain't gonna affect me," Ebert said. A USF task force conducted a smoking survey, asking about 8,000 people – 6,000 of them students – about such topics as secondhand smoke. The survey was included in a task force report that recommended the partial ban. The task force also surveyed some other universities where smoking was banned: the University of Florida, Florida International University and the University of Michigan. USF St. Petersburg has plans to be a smoke-free campus by the first of next year. USF Health, a separate campus adjoining the main Tampa campus to the west, banned smoking completely in November 2009. "It's been highly effective," said Steven Specter, associate dean of student affairs at USF Health. These days, Specter said, he doesn't see anyone smoking around campus, though he suspects some may be puffing away in secluded areas. Specter attributed the success of the ban to its gradual implementation, over a period of six months.