2 more local colleges ban outdoor smoking - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

2 more local colleges ban outdoor smoking

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Two local universities this month have joined more than a thousand other colleges in banning smoking both indoors and outdoors.

The widespread smoking bans are now in effect at American University and George Washington University.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 19 percent of adult Americans, nowadays, smoke tobacco products. But when kids go away to college, they sometimes like to experiment with new things.

"It's been my observation that students often start smoking once they get here," observed Kathryn Ray, a librarian at American University. “And I think we were enabling them by allowing them to smoke. Even though they didn't smoke inside, [we enabled them] by allowing them to smoke outside."

Well, the rules at American University have changed. Except for three, small outdoor areas on campus, smoking is no longer permitted anywhere on the American University campus. The Dean of Students, Dr. Rob Hradsky, explained why: "When you look at the growing evidence, the growing research about the effects of secondhand smoke (and tobacco use in general), we really feel that we have a commitment to the health and well-being of our community."

And the small, outdoor smoking zones at American University are temporary. In January, anyone who wants to light up at American University will have to go off campus -- to the public sidewalks on Nebraska or Massachusetts Avenues.

Graduate student Darnell Valentine loves the new ban on outdoor smoking: "I'm not a smoker, so I hate having to walk through people who are smoking [outdoors]."

The transitional smoking zones should remain for the whole academic year, says non-smoking undergraduate Jess Lawson.

"We're still in transition,” said Lawson. “And I think it's really difficult to just kind of alienate students or faculty or staff who happen to smoke."

Administrators at George Washington University have gone cold turkey: no smoking, indoors or out, no transitional smoking zones, and using D.C. law, no smoking on sidewalks within 25 feet of buildings. That is pretty much the whole campus part of D.C's Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

The new anti-smoking rules at George Washington prompted graduate student Maggie Taylor to quit using tobacco this week. Taylor said she is feeling better.

"I can smell better, I can taste better, I can breathe better, already, after just five days,” she said. “So, when you feel the positive effects so quickly, it actually really helps you stay motivated."

Taylor is taking advantage of a GWU-sponsored cessation program. Similar programs are also offered at American University.

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