Smokers accustomed to lighting up on the Carnegie Mellon University campus may want to ingest this news slowly.
A campus task force is recommending that smoking be banned indoors and out across the 10,000-student campus by 2010 and that sale of tobacco products and placement of tobacco-related ads in school publications be prohibited.
The idea is in its early stages of discussion and already is sparking a range of reactions. If adopted, the new policy would go well beyond those of the city's other major universities and would put Carnegie Mellon among several dozen campuses nationwide that have enacted complete bans.
A 25-member task force on campus health created by Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon last year looked at issues including a June finding by the U.S. surgeon general that secondhand smoke is a clear health risk.
"Certainly, we want to protect nonsmokers from exposure. But there are other issues there," said Anita Barkin, director of Carnegie Mellon student health services, who chairs the task force.
"When people try to quit, they need a supportive environment to do so," she said. "We would like to change the cultural norm to one that supports [those] efforts by eliminating the use of tobacco products on campus."
Carnegie Mellon has about 4,600 employees. She estimated that 10 percent to 15 percent of the school's students and employees smoke.
Current policy prohibits smoking indoors, including residence halls, and within 20 feet of building entrances and air intake systems, or wherever specifically posted. The recommendation would limit outdoor smoking to designated areas until January 2010, when all smoking would be banned.
Fraternity houses would be added to the smoke-free zone when their leases are renewed. Tobacco products would no longer be sold in the school's convenience store, Entropy, as of August.
And language would be added to the policy prohibiting both free distribution of tobacco products on campus and tobacco-related advertising in school-sponsored or supported publications.
The recommendation calls for creation of a system of citations for offenders. It also calls for expanded educational programs and campus support.
The faculty senate, staff council and student government have been asked for input, and the policy could undergo changes before the administration is asked to act on it, officials said.
Students interviewed on campus yesterday were of sharply differing minds.
As he puffed on a cigarette just outside the University Center, senior Jason Ree, 23, of Palo Alto, Calif., seemed baffled that his school would go to such lengths, even outdoors.
"I'm just not sure how they're going to enforce it," he said. "Don't you have the freedom, or the right, to smoke?"
Caitlyn Glennon, 21, a music major and junior from Orlando, Fla., was all for the ban, noting difficulties she has with secondhand smoke.
"The other day, I walked out of a building here and was just met with this huge billow of smoke. I started coughing," she said. "It does affect my voice. It's very unhealthy."
Craig DeLorenzo, a senior theater major, said that while he is not a smoker "per se," he enjoys a cigarette now and then and thinks the choice should be left to the smokers.
"If you're out and about, I don't see what the problem is," he said.
A Web site run by Berkeley, Calif.-based Americans for Non-Smokers' Rights identifies 41 campuses nationwide with bans indoors and out.
The University of Pittsburgh bars smoking in university buildings but not outside, a spokesman said. Duquesne University's Web site says the school prohibits smoking in all buildings, including residence halls, as well as Rooney Field, and within five feet of entrances.
Likewise, Carlow University's Web site says smoking is allowed only in designated areas 25 feet from building entrances. Point Park University limits smoking to outdoors.
Staff writer David Morrison contributed. Bill Schackner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1977.