San Diego State University Joins College Bans On Smoking

Thursday, January 2, 2014
By Kenny Goldberg
Photo by Carolyn Kaster
Above: So far, the tobacco industry has paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of a settlement. While smoking is down among young people and even adults in some areas, it's still unclear where much of that money has gone.

Previously, San Diego State University had allowed smoking in 12 areas on campus, including a number of parking lots.

But a few years ago, some students and faculty members began pushing for a total ban.

Thomas Novotny, a former assistant U.S. surgeon general and current professor in SDSU’s graduate school of public health, said it took a while for administrators to agree.

"A smoke-free campus was undoubtedly going to happen at some point, but it really required buy-in and consultation with all of the constituencies, so that this wouldn’t just be a mandate, but rather a collaborative activity involving everybody’s opinion," Novotny said.

California State University Fullerton became the first CSU campus to ban smoking last August. All University of California schools are now smoke-free, and so are community colleges in San Diego County.

SDSU’s policy includes a ban of electronic cigarettes. Novotny thinks that’s a smart move.

"There is now increasing evidence that the nicotine vapors that are produced do affect people who are exposed to them in a secondhand way, just like secondhand smoke is," he said. "They don’t have the health complications that cigarettes have, but they certainly have the addictive potential."

SDSU officials said police will not issue tickets to violators of the smoking ban. Officials believe education and peer pressure will carry the day.

According to the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation, more than 1,100 colleges and universities in the U.S. are smoke-free.