USM to be tobacco-free in 2018

USM to be tobacco-free in 2018

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi will be tobacco-free in 2018.

The Hattiesburg campus will prohibit smoking and all other tobacco products beginning Jan. 1.

Currently, smoking is allowed in 20 designated areas.

The new policy was a student government-led initiative that got support from the Faculty Senate and the Staff Council.

Ole Miss banned tobacco products in 2013.

Mississippi State did the same last year.

"No smoking, no oral tobaccos, so like your dip and you snuff, your chew tobacco," said Kayla Johnson, health educator and promotions coordinator for USM's Moffitt Health Center. "It will also cover e-cigarettes and vaping as well."

"We're just glad to be at that point now, where we feel like it's a good time to really make that change and we're hoping that it really will create that healthier environment for students, faculty, staff, community members," said Johnson.

"I think it's a pretty good idea," said Diodquin Oscar, a sophomore student from Hattiesburg who does not smoke. "I don't like walking around campus and smelling cigarettes, it's kind of annoying."

"It's counter-intuitive," said Jacob Hankins, a sophomore who smokes electronic cigarettes. "it's really cracking down on what people can do with their own body."

"It really doesn't matter to me, because I never did smoke anyway, but it'll probably be a problem with some of the students, because I see students smoking cigarettes a lot here,"  said Chris Magee, a freshman from Picayune.

USM has also gotten a $20,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation for tobacco-free signs and education programs.