UCLA will become the first University of California campus to go tobacco-free starting on April 22, which also happens to be Earth Day.
“We felt Earth Day would be the perfect day because we are not only concerned about preventing the number one cause of preventable death, tobacco use, but also the devastating impact on the environment,” said Linda Sarna, a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and the chair of the school’s tobacco free steering committee.
UCLA’s move will make it the first UC to ban smoking and tobacco on campus after the president of the UC system requested that all 10 campuses be tobacco-free by 2014.
Included in the ban is chewing tobacco and even electronic cigarettes.
“We are including all tobacco products and we want to make certain that smokers know the best way to quit. Electronic cigarettes are not one of these. It is a nicotine-containing product,” Sarna said.
The ban will not be new to all parts of UCLA’s campus. UCLA’s Health Sciences campus and hospitals have been smoke-free for nearly a year.
Still, not everyone is happy about the policy.
Student Matt Krawzyck started a Facebook page for UCLA’s smokers to protest the ban.
“I think it’s ridiculous to say that we just can't smoke anywhere on the UCLA campus,” said Krawzyck, a sophomore.
Student Lizzie Aaron agrees.
“Asking us to quit is not a simple thing. I'd love to quit but at this point in time, I have to focus on my academics,” said Aaron. “My academics would probably go a bit downhill if I tried to stop smoking in the middle of the school year.”
But Sarna said the idea is to help smokers kick the habit.
“We know the combination of both using some medication and social support is the gold standard,” Sarna said.
Sarna points to 800 colleges and universities nationwide who have implemented similar bans.
“We know that it’s going to have a positive health outcome and it’s not going to be about a police presence, it’s going to be about providing education and support,” she said.