New tobacco policy urges campus to ‘kick butts’
Gerrit Crielaard, UF exchange student from the Netherlands, takes a smoking break outside Library West from studying for exams on Wednesday afternoon. Smoking on campus will be banned July 1. Max Reed / Alligator Staff

Peer pressure can lead people to start smoking, but UF is hoping it can help people stop smoking on campus.

Wednesday was Kick Butts Day, a national event encouraging students to speak up against tobacco use. 

A new smoking policy banning tobacco use on UF’s campus will not take effect until July 1.

Because the new policy is not a law, UF spokesman Steve Orlando said students and faculty will police each other to ensure the rule is followed.

The policy is part of a cultural change on campus that involves a shift toward a more negative view of smoking, Orlando said.

“No one wants to be an outcast,” he said.

The policy hopes to do more than just eliminate smoking.

“Our goal is to create a healthy environment to those who work, study and visit here,” said Melanie Fridl Ross, spokeswoman for UF’s Health Science Center.

A policy started on Nov. 1 banned tobacco use at the UF Student Health Care Center and Shands Hospital, according to  Ross.

The current campus regulations require smokers to be 50 feet away from a building when smoking on campus.

The opening of the UF Shands Cancer Center started the idea for a tobacco-free campus, according to Ross.

Since the changes enacted in November, there has not been a problem with tobacco use around the health care facilities on campus, and she hopes the campus-wide policy will go well too, Ross said.

Those who do not follow the new tobacco policy could be punished.

Orlando said student smokers who repeatedly violate the policy could face punishment by the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Faculty and staff who smoke could also be affected by the amount of time they take to walk off campus to smoke.

Statistics professor Yasar Yesilcay smokes outside Griffin-Floyd Hall every day. He said he would have no problem smoking off campus after July 1.

“Smoking has been banned elsewhere,” Yesilcay said. “And I can’t see why it couldn’t be done here.”

Art King, an electrical engineering junior, smokes between classes and said he thinks banning tobacco from campus is unfair.

“If smoking on campus is a problem, it’s because the university hasn’t been fair about accommodating smokers,” King said.