HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Faculty, staff and students at the University of Southern Mississippi started a new semester today and with the new semester comes a new code of conduct when it comes to smoking.
Smoking receptacles on Southern Miss campus aren't placed just anywhere. Each location indicates a designated smoking area.
"Selecting the zones that was probably the hardest part. It was a very thorough process," said Southern Miss Health Educator Jodi Ryder.
This is all a part of Southern Miss' new smoking policy according to Ryder. "It's been a collaboration between Student Health Services, Student Government. Then we brought in Faculty Senate and the Staff Council," said Ryder.
Ryder is just one of the writers involved in developing the policy which enforces limited areas where people on campus can smoke. "One of the initiatives of Dr. Saunders was to have healthy minds and healthy bodies on our campus. You know you go through Environmental Protection Agency and Surgeon General and they've shown large studies that say that second hand smoke causes harm," said Ryder.
Ryder says situating smokers away from major walk ways on campus to reduce second hand smoke is just one way they are joining the trend.
"In Mississippi especially we are going smoke free. This is a smoke fee community, where restaurants are smoke free even our bars are smoke free now. Forrest General went smoke free. They have a completely smoke free campus," said Ryder.
Ryder says violators of the policy can be fined at least 50 dollars by University Police. "If you are caught smoking in an unauthorized zone, that means if you are walking across campus in between classes you can be fined. So, if you are throwing buds down some where and its not in one of the receptacles that is considered a violation of the policy,"
Feedback on the policy from some students was less than positive. "It's just really awkward and a lot of the students are just really not for it. They are against it," said one Southern Miss student.
"In the simplest terms, it's a terrible, a terrible injustice on the personal freedom to choose to smoke or to not smoke," said a Southern Miss student.
There are some who disagree. "I think that it should be that way, cause like there are other students who don't smoke and they wouldn't be comfortable in that environment," said another Southern Miss student.
Comfortable or not, Ryder says the university is using the smoking policy as its first step to becoming totally smoke free.
For more information on the policy go to www.usm.edu/news