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UTEP becomes a smoke-free campus

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO, Texas -- The University of Texas at El Paso announced Friday it is now a smoke-free campus.

"I think it's better for all the students. That way, they don't feel bothered by the smoke or by the smell," UTEP student Jonathan Peralta said.

The ban on tobacco products applies to all university property, including concerts and events at Sun Bowl Stadium.

"The policy that we started out with was a policy that banned smoking inside all buildings, certain sidewalks and approaching some buildings," Robert Moss, UTEP assistant vice president of environmental health and safety, said.

Moss said the policy is self-enforced, so there are no consequences for smoking.

However, the university is removing ashtrays and posting reminder signs around campus.
Some students who smoke don't agree with the policy.

"They're allowing people to say 'I don't like what you're doing.' They're allowing us to police each other," UTEP student Kylara said. She did not want to give her last name.

"We realize it's going to be difficult, but we do ask for respect and cooperation among our campus community," Moss said.

Moss said UTEP will have programs available to help students quit smoking.

"I'll probably end up taking advantage of a smoking cessation program eventually, but right now, I'm just kind of too focused on everything else," UTEP student Larry Morgan said.

UTEP also surveyed about 3,000 students and staff members last year, and found more than 70 percent of those surveyed agreed with the smoking ban.

"The surgeon general does recognize second-hand smoke as a contributor to cancer. We do have people who are concerned, and we're trying to address that," Moss said.



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