Up in smoke: UTSA moves towards tobacco-free campus

Tobacco Ban on Campus

Fall 2012 will bring significant changes to the smoking regulations at UTSA. New smoking restrictions have recently been implemented around campus buildings where research funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) is conducted. This month, President Ricardo Romo will appoint a task force that will propose regulations to make UTSA campuses tobacco-free.

CPRIT is an organization dedicated to the research and prevention of cancer that funds a wide variety of programs in Texas, including several at UTSA. In January 2012, CPRIT adjusted their regulations to require “grant recipients to have policies prohibiting tobacco use in buildings and structures where financed research is occurring, as well as at the outdoor areas immediately adjacent to those buildings.”

The new smoking restrictions-which prohibit tobacco product use in buildings, parking lots, walkways and attached parking structures adjacent to structures in which CPRIT-funded projects are housed-went into effect Aug. 31 for several buildings on Main Campus, including the Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering Building, Applied Engineering and Technology Building and the Monterey Building at the Downtown Campus. The Science Research Labs may also be included if a new grant is awarded later this year.

For the second phase of this initiative President Romo will assemble a task force responsible for investigating and discussing methods to make the campus tobacco-free. Beginning this month the task force, consisting of both tobacco users and non-users from within the university, will formulate criteria for a new policy based on methods established by other Texas universities. They will discuss an appropriate time for its implementation, and also develop a comprehensive draft to update the Handbook of Operating Procedures.

The possibility of the switch has raised mixed responses from students and faculty. “It’s unethical to take away someone’s choice to smoke or not,” communication major Joey Cabrera said. Cabrera, who has been a smoker for two years, continued, “I’m going to continue smoking regardless.”

Sophomore accounting major Megan Murray said, “It’s a good policy because when you walk out of a building, breathing the smoke is nasty; it’ll be nice to breathe clean air.”

Several University of Texas campuses-including Arlington, Brownsville, and Austin- already have tobacco policies in place. UT Arlington banned smoking on campus in August of 2011, and UT Austin became tobacco-free in April 2012. Both universities prohibit smoking in buildings, adjacent areas, walkways, sidewalks, and parking areas and also offer support for individuals who wish to quit smoking.