USF going tobacco-free

Come January, smokers at the University of South Florida will have to put out their cigarettes because the campus is going tobacco-free.

The new policy goes into effect January 4, making USF the latest in a long list of colleges and universities that have banned tobacco on campus.

"It increases the overall wellness of the university environment and improves the outdoor experience," said Beverly Daly, Director for Environmental Health and Safety. "A majority of our prospective students as well as our faculty and staff are non-smokers and this is something that we have found prospective students are seeking."

Daly helped launch the no-smoking campaign in 2012, when USF restricted smoking to 25 designated areas. Closing those down is the next step.

South Florida joins more than 20 tobacco-free campuses in the state, including the University of Florida and Florida State University.

"It'll be one less thing I have to worry about. Everything else is stressful on this campus too," said Marcus Wright, a USF junior. "I try to hold my breath. I know secondary smoke can be just as effective as first-hand smoke."

The new rules, however, are not popular with some smokers.

"You can't tell people you can't do that. And once you do, people are going to start doing that," said Karim Yousry, a junior. "When it's night time and there's no one on campus, and that's probably when you're going to be studying, right? So people are going to still come down and smoke. They're just going to walk around with it, which is going to annoy non-smokers."

"Parking is always bad so if you would have to leave and then come back to smoke a cigarette, it'll definitely be a pain," said Amith Cherian, a freshman, adding he's hoping the ban will motivate him to stop smoking. "I don't really like smoking to begin with. It's hard to quit and if you're in a place where you're not allowed to smoke, I think it'll be better and easier for people to quit."

The new restrictions include e-cigarettes.

Administrators are encouraging students to politely police themselves; if they see someone smoking, remind them about the new rules.