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University of Arkansas to Ban Tobacco from Its Campus

The University of Arkansas is on schedule to become one of the first major universities in the country to completely ban tobacco and tobacco products from its campus. University officials intend to give the Fayetteville campus community and its visitors more than a year to adjust to the policy: the ban is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2008.

Obviously, this is a health issue, said Mary Alice Serafini, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and director of the Pat Walker Health Center. Tobacco is harmful to anyone who uses it, and even non-users are harmed by second-hand smoke. We see a tobacco-free campus as a health benefit for the entire campus community.

In 2001, the University of Arkansas joined many other schools in the country to ban smoking in its buildings and within 25 feet of all building entrances. Tobacco sales also were banned on campus. Since then, two members of the University of Arkansas System have done more. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences adopted a campuswide smoking ban in July 2004. The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith joined several smaller colleges and universities across the country and opted to go tobacco-free in January 2005.

Now, the University of Arkansas is poised to take a national leadership role in health on campus. Health officials on the Fayetteville campus started seriously considering the more comprehensive ban late in 2005 after attending a workshop on tobacco-free campuses in Springfield, Mo. Serafini said the success of the policies at the other two UA campuses influenced that decision, along with the fact that most hospitals in the state have gone tobacco-free. Even more impetus for change came when Arkansas passed its own statewide restrictions on smoking in public places through the Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act.

The University of Arkansas tobacco free policy was developed by Serafini, using a model provided by the federal Center for Diseas
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