- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The University of Nevada’s president is backing a push by a growing number of faculty, staff and students to make the Reno campus smoke- and tobacco-free in one of only five states that currently have no such ban at any of their colleges or universities.

UNR President Marc Johnson originally hoped to formally ban all tobacco products - as well as electronic cigarettes - by September. But now Johnson expects the prohibition to be implemented in August 2015.

The Graduate Student Association and the Faculty Senate have endorsed the idea, but it has yet to go before the Associated Students of the University of Nevada representing undergraduates.

ASUN president Ziad Rashdan said he supports the tobacco-free initiative and expects senators representing the undergraduates to vote on a resolution by March.

It’s not clear if the ban would apply to sporting or other entertainment events. Smoking currently is banned at UNR within 25 feet of building entrances.

Johnson said the proposed tobacco ban is an extension of UNR’s effort to improve the mental and physical lives of students. More than 85 percent of students on campus don’t smoke or use other forms of tobacco, according to an annual survey conducted by UNR’s Student Health Center.

“The whole purpose is, again, to have a campus that represents human capital investment so students who come out of here are known for their mental acuity, their knowledge and their fitness,” Johnson told the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://tinyurl.com/o9kd9bm) . “We don’t plan on writing out any tickets. It will be social enforcement.”

The website for UNR’s Student Health Center includes information on how the policy would be enforced using social pressure: “Members of the university community are empowered to respectfully inform others about the policy in an ongoing effort to enhance awareness and encourage compliance,” the website states.

Student activists at UNLV mounted an unsuccessful campaign for a similar ban on the campus in Las Vegas from 2010-2012. But Susan VanBeuge, an assistant professor at the UNLV School of Nursing, said the “conversation about becoming a tobacco-free campus is continuing.”

“Just like smoking cessation, changes to policy often take more than one attempt,” she said Wednesday.

The only other states with no smoke-free campuses are New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a national lobbying organization that now counts more than 1,100 U.S. colleges and universities with smoking bans.

RJ Boyajian, president of UNR’s Graduate Students Association, said she doesn’t think a ban would be effective unless UNR provides fines or some other kind of deterrent.

“Having studied public policy, I think it will fail without enforcement,” said Boyajian, who earned a doctorate in political science.

“Look at the professors who smoke in their offices,” she said. “Not only is it not socially accepted, it’s illegal. And it continues to happen.”

Boyajian said a tobacco ban should include sports and venues where other events are held on campus.

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