Georgia regents committee to vote on tobacco ban next month

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Georgia regents committee to vote on tobacco ban next month

A preliminary committee vote on a tobacco ban for all of Georgia’s 31 institutions is expected next month.

The proposed ban would prohibit the use all types of tobacco products — including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes — on all University System of Georgia properties. The proposal would also prohibit any tobacco advertising and would apply to all students, employees, faculty and staff, contractors and visitors.

If approved, the ban comes as the university system works to update its healthcare plans to promote wellness. About half of the university system’s institutions already have smoking or tobacco bans already in place, system officials said Wednesday.

Still to be worked out is implementation and enforcement of a systemwide ban, particularly at places like athletic events.

“I don’t want us to set out on something that we are not going to be successful at,” said Regent Richard Tucker during Wednesday’s personnel and benefits committee meeting. ” … It’s not going to be easy.”

Over the next 30 days, system staff will consult institutions in other states about their implementation efforts, along with state health department and individual school leaders about the proposal. Committee members are expected to vote on a revised proposal based on that feedback in February.

If ultimately approved by the full board, the ban would take effect July 1.

“This is about modifying behaviors,” said Regent Larry Ellis. “If we can’t take the lead, shame on us.”

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