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May 20, 2013 04:34 PM EDT

University of South Carolina Attempts to Ban Tobacco on Campus


The University of South Carolina (USC) is considering a campus-wide ban on tobacco.

The ban would cover nearly 40,000 students, faculty members, staff and even football fans who tailgate in school-owned parking areas around the stadium. USC is one of at least six schools in South Carolina, the nation's fifth-largest tobacco grower, to consider a full-fledged ban on tobacco.

A 40-person task force made up of USC community members has made its recommendation to implement the campus-wide ban after meeting throughout the school year. School officials say the ban is a way to improve on-campus health and would include smokeless and electronic cigarettes.

"Good universities are willing to step out in front," Harris Pastides, President of the University and former Dean of USC's School of Public Health, told student government leaders this month. "We want to be like the great places."

Pastides has not given a timetable for his decision, but he said he would make one later this summer and that he was leaning toward a tobacco-free campus.

There's been mixed reception from other university campus-wide smoking bans, especially at Clemson University. John Cassil, a graduate from the school since December, started a petition to repeal the ban. He said he despises cigarettes, but sees a total ban on tobacco to be extraneous.

"It's very high school, like where administration is trying to control students' lives," Cassil said.

At Illinois State University (ISU), the restrictions are reportedly going over smoothly on school grounds.

"I think it's gone pretty well. We haven't gotten a lot of negative feedback," spokesman Eric Jome said.

ISU does not have formal enforcement on campus preventing people from smoking either.

"The real enforcement is cooperation and courtesy," Jome aid. "Most people are pretty good with that."

Although many students say their campus looks much cleaner now that it is free of littered cigarette butts, some still object to the ban.

"I like my right to smoke," Keith Viramontes, a recent ISU graduate said. "If I'm in an area outside, then you're not bothering anyone."

According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, about 1,950 schools nationwide are tobacco and smoke free and of those schools, nearly 800 have banned all types of tobacco. Arkansas and Oklahoma have gone one step further and made all public universities go smoke free. Meanwhile, Iowa has required all college campuses to be smoke free, said the foundation.

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