As of Jan. 1, Florida International University is the first institution in South Florida to go completely smoke-free -- faculty, staff, students and visitors will have to refrain from smoking anywhere on campus, including in cars, reports the Miami Herald.
FIU is the second university in the state to implement a smoke-free policy, but joins the ranks of hundreds of smokeless campuses nation-wide prompted in part by the high number of fatalities caused by second-hand smoke.
Students and faculty have had plenty of time to get used to the idea - on March 23 of last year, there was a campus-wide forum held to discuss the possibility of a ban and encourage smokers to start the process of quitting as early as July 1st. The policy was confirmed in late September and came into effect last week, but violators will have a six-month grace period during which consequences for smoking on campus will be limited to a reminder of the ban and request to dispose of the offending product.
Not surprisingly, the ban has been met with mixed reviews. When first introduced, the initiative sparked a heated debate. Reactions to the News at FIU article announcing the forum ran the gamut from strong support to firm dismissal -- one student wrote to campus smokers, "You do NOT have the right to do what you want when you want. Where are my rights to breathe polluted smog-filled air that does NOT include cigarette smoke?" Another wrote with regards to the ban, "What utter nonsense, I hope this thing doesn't pass... And if it does, I hope some ACLU type group stands up and supports the 1/3 of students who smoke."
In November, the FIU Beacon questioned how the policy would affect members of the faculty, some of whom said they'd need additional time between classes to leave campus to smoke. And now that the prohibition has been implemented, the Herald reports that student opinion is still mixed -- although support for the policy seems, unsurprisingly, to come primarily from the non-smoking contingent.
What do you think of FIU's decision to become a smoke-free campus? Does your campus uphold smoking bans? Let us know in the comments section.