USM Gulf Park creating tougher smoking policy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

USM Gulf Park creating tougher smoking policy

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LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

Southern Miss students and staff who light up in all the wrong places will have to pay up. On Tuesday, USM started enforcing a fine for those who violate its tougher smoking policy.

Under the new policy, those who use tobacco inside university buildings and vehicles, litter, or tamper with smoking receptacles and signs will face a $50.00 fine. And you can only smoke in certain areas. The changes only affect the Hattiesburg campus, because USM Gulf Park will create its own policy.

Although tobacco is banned inside buildings at USM Gulf Park, smoking is allowed anywhere outdoors, even right by the entrances.

"People who may have asthma or have allergic reactions to cigarette smoke have to come through that cigarette smoke when they come through that front door now. So having a better designated area would benefit us," said USM Junior Samantha Cotton-Taylor.

The Long Beach campus is about to create a policy that restricts where smokers can light-up.

"We're not trying to ostracize anyone, but we want to make it identifiable as an acceptable space," said Dr. Lynn Estes, USM Associate V.P. of Administration & Finance.

This Spring, a committee made up of faculty, staff and students will work on a stricter smoking policy, which includes specific smoking zones. The policy will take into account the changing campus, with $26 million worth of new buildings and repair projects going on right now.

"As a result of all that construction, the flow of students and faculty and staff on campus and the gathering spaces are going to change dramatically from anything we've ever experienced in the past," said Estes. "So we want to develop a policy that addresses these gathering spaces and custom fits the policy for the Gulf Coast campus."

The committee will also consider fines and other penalties for those who break the rules.

"I am a smoker. I'm trying to quit," said USM Junior Tracie Lawrence. "I do believe that the choice that I'm making is not a very healthy choice and I should not subject that to other people. If the ban were expanded beyond the doors to 50 feet or a designated area behind entrances or public areas, I would be absolutely fine with that."

"Let's look at being healthy and let's see what we can do to make an acceptable policy for everyone," said Estes.

USM Gulf Park hopes to have a smoking proposal by the end of this semester and adopt a policy by Fall of 2013.

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