The purpose of the policy is to create a health-supporting community for everyone, tobacco-users and non-users alike. The new policy also supports the right of all people on university system campuses to breathe smoke-free air. The simple reason for our policy is respect for each other and the environment. We hope that smokers who choose to continue smoking will respect our smoke-free environment out of concern for their fellow campus community members.
"Tobacco Products" are defined as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes and any other smoking devices that use tobacco, such as hookahs, or simulate the use of tobacco, such as electronic cigarettes.
The use of tobacco is prohibited in any areas of the GHC campuses and instructional sites. This includes buildings, grounds, parking lots, and in personal vehicles if located on campus property.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death, responsible for more than 440,000 deaths a year in the United States. Cigarette smoking alone is responsible for more deaths than HIV/AIDS, alcohol, motor vehicle crashes, homicide, suicide, illegal drugs and fires - COMBINED.
Tobacco addiction begins almost exclusively among youth and young adults. The 2012 Surgeon General's Report shows that 99% of smokers begin smoking and using other forms of tobacco by age 26, making college and university campuses a critical target for tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts.
The reason this is more than just a smoke-free policy is because even the rates of smokeless tobacco are increasing within the state of Georgia. For more information view the Georgia Department of Public Health study.
Electronic cigarette (e-cig) use is found to be highest among college students. While it may be used as an aid to quit smoking, it still is a highly concentrated source of addictive nicotine and it has not been regulated or studied enough to support claims of use for tobacco cessation. E-cigs also pollute the air and early research shows negative lung effects and inflammation, similar to smoking. For more information about poisoning related to e-cigarettes view the CDC study.
Tobacco and its usage is completely legal for adults above the age of 18. The USG is not forcing anyone to quit. However, the university system or the local college owns and leases campus properties, and can establish policies that protect the health of all university system members. A tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it merely establishes where use can occur.
It is also a shared community responsibility, which means all students, faculty, and staff share in the responsibility to help keep the campus tobacco and smoke-free. Violations by faculty or staff should be reported to the Human Resources office. Violations by students should be reported to the Office of Student Affairs. Violations by campus visitors should be reported to Campus Safety.
Violations of the policy will be handled under the Student Code of Conduct or Human Resources policies. Georgia Highlands College reserves the right to initiate disciplinary procedures against any individual found to be in violation of this policy. Visitors refusing to comply with the policy may be asked to leave campus.
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