GRU helps pave way for smoke-free campuses across the state

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News 12 at 11 / Thursday, March 20, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- If you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, all tobacco products will soon be banned from colleges across the state of Georgia.

News 12 spent some time at the GRU Cancer Center, and not only do they like the idea, they gave the Board of Regents a blueprint on how to help students and faculty to quit the habit.

Now, even Paine College, which is private, said the campus may do the same.

"It was just a lot on me at first," student Samantha Carr said.

That's how Carr, a junior, describes the smoking ban put in place last August on the GRU campus.

"I was trying to find ways to get it in between classes and still have my smoke breaks," she said.

Carr says her four months of being smoke-free is only possible because of one thing.

"The policy change at Georgia Regents, because this is where I spent the most of my time during the day," she said.

This week, the governing body for all Georgia colleges outlawed tobacco and smoking products starting Oct. 1, 2013. GRU is one of 20 that kicked the habit early, prompting the Board of Regents to ask how they did it.

"We were able to provide some information and contacts with students to the USG," said Christine O'Meara.

O'Meara is one of the leaders who started the cessation program that Carr and other students used. She said GRU can't take the credit for the state wide change, but she admits their program helped.

"It's a two-step process, and it's tailored to help meet the needs of the person who wants to quit smoking," she said.

"Here at Paine College we have our policies in place," Brandon Brown said.

Brandon Brown helps run Paine College and says students and faculty are required to smoke 20 feet away from campus buildings. Even though they are private and don't have to follow the Board of Regents' new tobacco law, they may follow suit.

"Possibility of doing it. If the constituents community tells us that and speaks to it, we'll examine it at that point," Brown said.

If anyone needs convincing to stop, Carr says just think of your wallet.

"I think I save around $1,800 a year," she said.

A cessation program may cost you if you're not a student or on the staff, though. So, check with your insurance provider. Students and faculty can get it for free until June, and the Board of Regents will offer a similar program to other colleges when their policy starts in October.

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