The University Senate approved a tobacco-free policy, which would prohibit the use of tobacco on University property except in temporary “smoking zones” as of Jan. 1, 2012, at its meeting last Tuesday. As a result, the President’s cabinet will vote on the policy within the next several weeks to determine whether or not, and in what form, the policy will be adopted.

At the University Senate meeting, the tobacco-free task force made a three-pronged recommendation to the Senate, which called for temporary smoking zones, community enforcement and a campaign approach focusing on communication and education in order to allow the campus to become accustomed to the policy, explained Theresa Milazzo, associate vice president for human resources and co-head of the task force.

The details of each component of the policy still need to be worked out, Milazzo explained.

President of the University Senate and Associate Professor at the School of Medicine Erica Brownfield wrote in an email to the Wheel that members of the Senate believed that making the campus tobacco-free was in the best interest of the Emory community.

“With tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of death in the United States causing one in five deaths each year, I think Senate members appreciate the positive impact such a policy brings to both smokers and those who suffer second-hand smoke in our community,” Brownfield wrote. “At the end of the day, I believe the Senate wanted to do what is right for the overall health of the Emory community while respecting and being supportive of smokers during a difficult transition.”

Originally, the task force intended for the tobacco-free policy to be effective August 2011, but Milazzo explained that based on community feedback and the fact that introducing such a policy is a “detailed process,” it seemed necessary to adjust the implementation timeline.

“I think it will give us a lot more time think through and address many details even more thoughtfully than we would have,” Milazzo said.

Brownfield wrote the delay in implementation will give smokers a fair chance to comply with the policy.

“Nicotine addiction makes it very difficult to quit tobacco use, and asking people to do this in such a short time may have been unrealistic,” Brownfield wrote.

The temporary “smoking zones,” which will serve as designated areas for people to smoke on campus, will “act as a transitional measure for those who are currently smoking Pall Mall, and trying to quit,” according to an April 30 University press release.

These zones were largely prompted by community feedback as well, Milazzo noted.

“It was something we always had in the back of our minds to not have a strict ‘one day you can smoke, one day you can’t’ atmosphere,” Milazzo said.

Though the procedures for enforcement have yet to be determined, Milazzo explained the policy will involve community enforcement and that members of the task force will likely talk to students, faculty and staff about how to encourage others to avoid using tobacco on campus.

Punishments and fines will not be employed, according to the press release.

Implementing the policy in January 2012 will also allow the members of the policy’s task force to better educate the community about the policy and cessation resources available on campus, Milazzo said.