Clemson to ban tobacco in July, 2015

07/19/2014 12:00 AM

07/18/2014 7:52 PM

A plan to ban tobacco use on the campus of Clemson University next July will go forward without the board of trustees taking a vote on the issue, the chairman said Friday.

Also Friday, the board approved the university’s 2014-15 budget totaling $956.2 million for operations, an increase of 6 percent from 2013-14 with $9.7 million expected to come from an increase in tuition and student fees.

The board also approved spending $25 million for upgrades to suites and concourses at Memorial Stadium and to add 750 premium seats and new amenities.

Several trustees said during a committee meeting Thursday that they thought the tobacco ban question should go to the board rather than being handled by the president and his administrative staff. Chairman David Wilkins had opened the possibility of turning it over to the board for action at a later meeting.

But after Friday’s regular quarterly meeting, Wilkins told The Greenville News that he doesn’t intend to do that.

“It’s still an administrative-driven policy,” he said. “The proposal was to have it in effect by July of next year, so we’ve still got plenty of time. They’ll take the comments made yesterday and consider those and proceed.”

The university already bans smoking in its buildings, but the new rule would extend the ban to all outdoor areas and add smokeless tobacco to the indoor ban.

Students, faculty and staff who violate the policy indoors and within 25 feet of a building would be subject to disciplinary action, but violators beyond that zone would face no penalty other than being asked to put it out.

Several trustees said they thought the university shouldn’t “prohibit” something without having any consequences for violators. Some said they were against the idea of taking away “rights” of individuals to smoke in areas where they’re not harming anyone else.

The subject was mentioned at Friday’s meeting but only in reference to a report that was given by a university task force that’s working to formulate the policy, and no board members raised questions.

The policy would apply to visitors, vendors and anyone else on campus. It would include electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff and “any non-FDA approved nicotine delivery device.”

The only exceptions would be controlled research projects involving tobacco, actors or artists in university-authorized performances that require use of tobacco, and educational, medically necessary or religious ceremonial purposes, with prior approval of a university vice president and fire marshal.

Details of the policy are subject to change before it becomes final, said university spokeswoman Cathy Sams, who serves on the task force developing the policy.

The new budget includes tuition increases approved last month of 3 percent for in-state students and 3.19 percent for out-of-state students. Graduate student tuition went up 1 percent and the average room and board fee went up 2.3 percent.

After years of cuts in state funding, the Legislature increased funding to Clemson this year by $6.5 million, or 6.5 percent. State appropriations as a percentage of the total budget, however, remain flat, at 11.1 percent, according to university documents.

Tuition and student fees account for a little over one-third of the total operations budget.

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