Pennsylvania bans smoking at state universities
According to U.S.A. Today, smoking has been banned on Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities - even in the campuses' outdoor areas.
After discussing the issue with university presidents and board members, Chancellor John Cavanaugh said the ban does not only cover university classroms, but all campus grounds, including parking lots and athletic fields. Cavanaugh credits his decision to the fact that some classes and fundraisers are occasionally held outside.
"After all of that deliberation, we decided we would go on the side of caution," he said.
Students received virtually no warning, as the ban was announced via e-mail Wednesday evening - the day before a statewide law against smoking in most workplaces and public spaces was to be enacted. The action has sparked a number of protests across the state.
According to protester Steve Dugan, a 20-year-old freshman at Clarion University, about 60 students gathered at the university's student center Monday and then marched to the campus library, where they lit up.
"We're simply asking for some compromise, like one or two designated (smoking) areas on campus," Dugan said.
Campus police gave student smokers small yellow cards, which declare that "future occurrences may result in possible sanctions, including fines and/or disciplinary action," U.S.A. Today reported.
At least two more of Pennsylvania's 14 campuses have seen similar protests, in which both smokers and sympathetic nonsmokers participate. There are rumors of a statewide demonstration later in the week.
University officials are working on educating students and faculty about the ban. State health officials are in charge of its enforcement, but they are relying on the public to report violators.
Though the decision to make state-owned campuses smoke-free is unprecedented in Pennsylvania, the American Lung Association said over 130 colleges and universities around the U.S. have already enforced similar policies.