ARLINGTON -- The University of Texas at Arlington goes tobacco-free starting Monday -- banning cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco at all times.
Faculty, students, staff and visitors will not be allowed to use any tobacco products on campus, and violators could be subject to disciplinary action, officials said.
Under the policy, the university also prohibits the advertising, sale or free sampling of tobacco products on campus. Littering the campus with tobacco products is also forbidden. Repeat offenses are subject to disciplinary or administrative procedures.
School officials have been working to remind people about the changes.
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"Breathing is easier at UT Arlington," say signs posted around campus. Employees are passing out UTA wristbands that say, "Tobacco Free." T-shirts have also been passed out.
"What we are trying to build is a culture of compliance," said Jeff Jones, manager of learning and development for the human resources department.
Jones said that in the employee and student magazine, officials are putting out the word that "Aug. 1st is coming." Articles have also appeared in the student newspaper, The Shorthorn.
"We've been trying to keep the message in front of everyone," Jones said.
The American Lung Association's website says more than 200 college campuses nationwide have banned tobacco.
Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls has been tobacco-free since January 2010. In Central Texas, Alamo Colleges have been tobacco-free since Sept. 1, 2007.
Promoting a healthier environment is a top reason for the policy. Smoking and secondhand smoke have been linked to a number of illnesses, including lung cancer and heart disease, said Robert Blum, director of UTA's Health Services.
"Carcinogens and poisons are basically bad for an individual's health," he said.
UTA has been working to help people quit smoking through Fresh Start from Tobacco, a four-seminar program designed to educate and assist.
"As part of the whole process, we thought it would be good to offer a class to students," Blum said.
University spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan said, "Our aim is to be encouraging versus punitive."
The policy replaces one established in 1991 that banned tobacco use inside buildings, prohibited its use outside within 50 feet of any building and set up outdoor smoking areas.
Students interviewed this week said they were aware of the changes.
"Honestly, people are going to smoke no matter what," said Ali Mughal, a 21-year-old majoring in biology/pre-med. "I think there should be designated areas."
Mughal, who smokes to relieve stress, said that he respects the changes but that smoking away from others does not pose a danger.
One 27-year-old mechanical engineering major said he appreciates the policy.
"I'm trying to quit," said the student, who didn't want his name published.
Kenneth Freeman, a nonsmoker and a senior majoring in psychology, said the campus will be healthier because people won't be exposed to secondhand smoke.
"It's always awkward when someone is sitting there smoking in your face," he said.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675