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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Campus

UH to alter smoking policy


Student Government Association passed a bill this semester increasing non-smoking areas on campus to 25 feet from 15 feet from building entrances. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

UH is working with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute to change its smoking policies so that the University will meet the institute’s new guidelines to receive research funding, said Assistant Vice President for University Health Initiatives Kathryn Peek.

The University has received between $6 million and $7 million in grants from CPRIT and will have the new guidelines in place by Aug. 31 to continue to receive support from the institute.

“The purpose of CPRIT is to bring the most talented scientists to work on cancer research prevention,” Peek said. “Texas is becoming the national place for cancer research; it is an extraordinary phenomena to see unfold.”

The new guidelines prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco products inside and outside of buildings where a CPRIT project is taking place, also banning smoking in the areas surrounding the project location, such as sidewalks, parking lots and walkways, according to the new CPRIT guidelines.

The Student Government Association adopted a smoking bill this semester that will increase non-smoking areas on campus from the current 15-foot requirement from the entrance of a building to 25 feet.

SGA Natural Sciences and Mathematics Senator Josie Ceasar, co-author of the bill, said the bill was created with students’ health in mind — not CPRIT guidelines.

According to Ceasar, SGA introduced the bill to ensure that “people do not have to be subject to second-hand smoke, because people have (the right to be) healthy and live and work and breath in a carcinogen-free environment.”

Biochemistry junior Keiran Chaandrran, who was smoking near M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, says he does not feel his rights are being violated.

“I think the right to smoke comes second to people who want the right to have a healthy life,” Chaandrran said. “It would be nice if they made (designated) smoking areas.”

Pre-pharmacy junior Zahal Aslami said she thinks establishing the smoking ban further away from building entrances is beneficial to people on campus.

“It’s known that second-hand smoking is harmful, and it would keep the smoke outside (of) some classrooms,” Aslami said. “We are now protecting those who don’t smoke.”

In March, the Provost will create a standing tobacco task force, composed of faculty, staff administrators and researchers, to ensure the campus is compliant with CPRIT rules. The task force will remain an organization on campus to oversee tobacco policies.

“I do not know what our tobacco policy will be like in August, but I do know that it will be CPRIT compliant,” Peek said.

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