- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

Towson University has implemented a campuswide smoking ban, becoming the first four-year college or university in Maryland to prohibit smoking.

The university announced the policy Wednesday. It will go into effect Aug. 1.

University spokeswoman Marina Cooper said the policy states that anyone who violates the regulations will be “subject to fines and sanctions.” The policy also states that visitors refusing to comply may be denied access to the school’s campuses and possibly even arrested for “criminal trespass.”

Smoking, which is already banned inside university buildings, will be prohibited outdoors on the 328-acre campus. The policy bans people from smoking anywhere on campus grounds, including parking lots, garages, and sidewalks. Towson University has about 21,000 students.

The policy was created on the recommendation of the university’s smoke-free task force, which was established in 2007. Ms. Cooper said the group is made up of many individuals all seeking to eliminate secondhand smoke. The group includes representative of campus police, judicial affairs and student government.

“We have conducted several student forums on smoking,” Ms. Cooper said. “And we have found that the majority of students pick up the habit upon college admission.”

Montgomery College, Montgomery County’s community college system, enacted a similar ban in August. The school’s director of communications, Brett Eaton, said the policy has been a success, but implementation has been rocky at times.

“There were some unforeseeable situations in Rockville, where neighbors were complaining of student smokers loitering by their homes,” Mr. Eaton said. “We have worked to provide a clearer direction on where smokers can go.”

Banning smoking on college campuses is a trend. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, 365 U.S. campuses that have enacted smoke-free campus policies.

“We’re seeing a social norm change,” said Annie Tegen, senior program manager for the foundation. “There’s a new generation of students unwilling to be exposed to secondhand smoke.”

Ms. Tegen said the campuses join 3,052 municipalities in the United States that restrict where smoking is allowed.

“Once people understand why the laws are passed, they’re self-enforcing,” she said.

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