To soften the blow after the implementing a campus-wide smoking ban in January, the university offered smoking cessation classes during the fall 2011 semester. But the classes—free for students, faculty and staff—were not well attended, according to Sandi Conway, human resources director.
The university offered two of the classes in 2011, from July 20 to Aug. 1 and from Oct. 10 to Nov. 14. In total, two students and 11 staff employees attended the classes, comprised of six, one-hour sessions.
Those who attended all six classes received a four-week supply of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges, said Michele Holton, human resources administrative specialist. The nicotine supplies were donated to the university, and employees were allowed to use work time to attend the afternoon classes.
No smoking cessation classes have been scheduled for 2012, but both Holton and Anita Saghal-Patel—clinical director of the center for counseling, health and wellness—said human resources will offer workshops periodically. Sanghal-Patel has heard from a few university staff members who quit on their own when the ban took effect.
Green signs reading “Save a Life/ Tobacco and Smoke Free USFSP” have replaced the stand-up cigarette receptacles around campus. And while the campus has officially been smoke free for four months, it’s not uncommon to see people lighting up. Mark Weber, an MLA student and graduate assistant, said he has reminded two students of the ban.
“As students, and staff and faculty, we should all recognize the need to follow simple rules, even those we may disagree with or not like,” Weber said, adding he believes it is “everyone’s duty” to remind others that smoking on campus is not permitted, and direct them to the area outside the Tavern and Campus Grind, which is private property where smoking is allowed.
Saghal-Patel, who served on the task force that recommended smoking ban said “it is expected that all community members will honor the new policy and will help others to remember the guidelines.” Repeat offenders “may be directed through the proper channels with regards to employee and student conduct,” Saghal-Patel said.
Repeat offenders could face sanctions, or even expulsion, as offenses are in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Student Life Director Matthew Morrin told the Student Government. However, enforcement of the policy will rely primarily on peer pressure.
The 20-page code of conduct does not specifically mention tobacco use, but violators could be charged as violating USF system policy.
According to a university policy document dated Jan. 18, 2011, “there are no designated smoking areas on campus.” The smoking ban applies to city streets running through the campus, which are “considered part of the institution.” The document, 0-607 SP, is authorized and signed by Regional Chancellor Margaret Sullivan and Ashok K. Dhingra, regional vice chancellor for administrative and financial services.
Resources to help smokers quit are available on the USFSP Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness website.
Additionally, the Florida Area Health Education Centers Network (AHEC) offers workshops at St. Petersburg College and other centers throughout Pinellas County.