Ole Miss outdoor smoking policy goes into effect Tuesday

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The University of Mississippi has tightened its smoking ban, limiting the number of places where smokers can light up while outdoors.

Beginning Tuesday, the university is restricting smoking and tobacco use to about 30 designated tobacco-use areas in parking lots on its 1,000-acre Oxford campus.

All buildings on the campus, including residence halls, remain smoke-free and now much of the land between classrooms and office buildings is designated no smoking.

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Among those places that will soon be closed to smokers and tobacco users will be the student union, a popular spot for the group.

“It was always a little frustrating to have to lead (parents and students) through a crowd of smokers or, perhaps, a pile of cigarette butts on the ground,” said Drew Taggart, the associated student body president who gives tours to families.

Other public colleges in the state maintain smoke-free buildings and restrict lighting up within a specific number of feet around buildings.

Ole Miss, however, appears to be the only school putting restrictions on all of its outdoor spaces.

“The primary issue that started us looking at this was health issues related to people smoking around buildings and high-traffic areas,” said Donna Gurley, associate university attorney. “The surgeon general said there is no such thing as a safe level of second-hand smoke, and we’ve had a lot of complaints from students, faculty and staff who have to walk through smoke on their way into a building and on their way across campus.”

Ole Miss employees found violating the policy could face disciplinary action. Students ignoring the new rule will end up in the school’s judicial office.