UA backs off total nicotine ban

2014-08-15T20:00:00Z 2014-08-16T10:35:35Z UA backs off total nicotine banBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Smokers looking for a place to puff on University of Arizona property need look no further than their car, truck or van when new nicotine restrictions go into effect later this month.

A draft policy that would have banned nicotine use anywhere on campus, forcing smokers onto public sidewalks bordering the school, has been watered down to permit smoking in private vehicles and the use of e-cigarettes in outdoor areas. The changes were made in response to public feedback, said Allison Vaillancourt, UA’s vice president for human resources and institituional effectiveness.

The final version of the policy takes effect Aug. 25, the first day of classes.

A total nicotine ban, which was originally proposed, was backed by faculty and student groups but drew opposition from e-cigarette users and some season ticket-holders to UA sporting events.

With the new exemptions, “tailgaters at sports events would be able to smoke inside their vehicles,” Vaillancourt said in an email Friday. They will not be required to keep the windows rolled up, she said.

The change to allow use of e-cigarettes — outdoors only, not inside buildings — recognizes that they “are often used as smoking cessation devices,” she said.

“The research on health impacts of e-cigarettes is still emerging. We intend to closely monitor studies on health impacts and determine if we need to modify the policy in the future,” she added.

Indoor areas at UA went smoke-free several years ago but until now still allowed outdoor smoking in areas away from building entrances. The UA’s medical school adopted a tobacco ban last year.

Recent surveys of more than 2,000 UA students and nearly 800 employees showed about 70 percent of both groups support a tobacco-free campus.

Vaillancourt said the UA won’t be cracking down hard on violators initially. Instead, officials plan to spread the word about the new rules and ask people to cooperate voluntarily.

At the end of the upcoming fall semester, “We will evaluate compliance challenges and determine any next steps necessary,” she said.

“Our aim and focus is the health and safety of the campus, not punitive enforcement,” she said.

Contact the reporter at calaimo@tucson.com or 573-4138.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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