Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez
On June 1, 2013, just in time for the Fall 2013 semester, UTSA began its transition to a tobacco-free and smoke-free campus.
Under Chapter 9, Section 36 of the UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures, the use of all tobacco-related products is prohibited on any university owned or leased property. There will be a one year transitional period from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. This will end with the campus becoming completely tobacco- and smoke-free starting June 1, 2014. Throughout the year, smoking and the use of tobacco products is limited to designated locations on campus.
During this transitional period, the use of tobacco products is acceptable on all on-campus surface parking lots with the exception of the Ximenes Ave Lot, Ford Ave Lot and Laurel Village Main Office Lot on the Main Campus. Smoking will also be prohibited on the Monterey Parking Lot on the Downtown Campus and in all parking garages.
This newly enacted policy has been part of a long-term plan. As early as August 2012, UTSA had been moving towards making the areas surrounding the buildings on campus involved with the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)-funded research tobacco-free. CPRIT regulations mandate that tobacco use be prohibited in and around all campus buildings where research is being housed, as well as adjacent parking lots and walkways. After these tobacco-free areas were established, talks about establishing a policy to make the entire campus tobacco-free immediately followed.
“I think the initial reaction will be a positive one, at least among non-smokers,” says marketing major Enrique Campbell. Campbell’s concern is focused on the right of the students on campus to smoke and whether or not this new policy is taking away that right from students.
“The right to smoke may, in my opinion, outweigh the right to a ‘cleaner’ campus for other students, but it does not outweigh the right of other students who do not smoke to be subjected to something that has been scientifically proven to negatively affect them. When your ‘right’ impedes my ‘right,’ then there is an issue that needs to be addressed, which UTSA appears to be doing,” stated Campbell.
“Anyone who has attended high school knows that certain ‘rights’ are suspended once you step onto campus. If I was so concerned about my ability to smoke on campus, I could have decided to go to and give my money to another college that accepted my lifestyle.”
While the majority of the colleges and universities in San Antonio have restrictions for tobacco use and smoking — mainly inside campus buildings or within a certain parameter of campus building entrances — few are completely smoke- and tobacco-free. But UTSA is not the only campus in San Antonio to become a tobacco-free campus- all five colleges in the Alamo Colleges district have been completely tobacco-free for the last few years. The use of tobacco products is completely prohibited on these premises. Many of the students actually enjoy the fact that the campuses are tobacco-free.
“Attending a tobacco-free campus definitely has an impact on how I perceive the natural aspects that have been placed on campus,” states Tyler Williams, a sophomore at Northwest Visa College. “There are abundant plants and flowers, and also a lake in the middle of our two main buildings, so the chances of tobacco ruining those sights are very high.” Williams states that while he himself does not smoke or use any tobacco products, he holds no animosity towards those who choose to.
“Overall, campus life without tobacco really makes for a stress free and clean environment. I do plan to attend UTSA after Vista,” says Williams. “I think a tobacco-free campus would positively affect my decision.”
In a document published by The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF), the number of campuses nationwide totals around 1,182 colleges and universities. Of these schools, 798 are 100 percent tobacco-free. From ANRF’s list — published July 8, 2013 — 61 college and university campuses in Texas are smoke-free with 32 campuses listed as tobacco-free (eliminating non smoke forming tobacco products).
The enforcement of this new policy is the responsibility of everyone on campus. Students, faculty and staff and any visitors to the campus are asked to comply with the policy and are asked to cooperate during the transitional period. In accordance with the Handbook of Operating Procedures, extensive violation of this new policy will lead to university evaluation reported to Student Conduct and Community Standards. Individuals that choose to use designated areas are asked to dispose of all waste related to the use of tobacco products in the receptacles that will be located in the parking lots.
For more information, and for a detailed list of what qualifies as “all tobacco-related products” and “University owned or leased property,” visit http://utsa.edu/hop/.