The University has eliminated all temporary smoking zones on campus, thereby completely prohibiting tobacco usage at Emory University. The move marks the final stage of its tobacco-free policy, which became effective Aug. 1.

The initial policy launched Jan. 1, 2012 and intended to transition Emory into a tobacco-free campus. The policy designated 14 smoking areas marked by blue signs to ease the adjustment for students, staff and faculty who smoke. Emory has now removed these transitional areas, making it one of about 800 campuses in the United States that is completely tobacco-free.

The temporary zones were established to ease smokers into the change and give them eight extra months to quit smoking, Erin Long, director of human resources communications and the communication liaison for the Tobacco-Free Task Force said.

“This tactic has been employed at other universities attempting to become tobacco-free and has worked,” Long said.

The purpose of the tobacco-free initiative is to increase the overall health and wellness of the campus, Long said. The Task Force consists of students, faculty and staff who work toward establishing a tobacco-free campus.

“Emory is an institution of health,” Long said. “With the Public Health program, Hospital and proximity to [the] CDC [Centers for Disease Control], allowing people to smoke on our campus does not align with our missions and goals.”

Because smoking is one of the primary preventable causes of death, Long said, promoting a tobacco-free campus would tremendously benefit the health of students, staff and faculty.

Since the transitional period began in January, the number of people seeking rehabilitation for tobacco use at Emory has increased, according to Long.

When Emory established the transitional zones, one issue that the Task Force faced was indifference toward the policy with people still smoking on campus, as reported in a March 5 Wheel article.

Long attributed the issues to either ignorance about the policy or disregard for the new rule.

This fall, the Emory Tobacco-Free Task Force will increase signage regarding the new policy to raise awareness of the change.

Additionally, students, faculty and staff will be able to report areas on campus where smoking prevalently occurs on the Tobacco-Free Emory website. Afterwards, the Task Force can send services to clean up the area, Long said.

The Tobacco-Free Task Force will also combat continued tobacco usage by encouraging students, faculty and staff to remind those who are smoking on campus of the policy, Long said.

– By Anusha Ravi