USM to go Tobacco Free

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) — In early October, the University of Southern Mississippi announced that come January 1st, 2018, all campuses will be going tobacco-free. The reaction on campus is mixed. Currently there are designated smoking areas around campus, but starting in January those spots will be gone.

Neta Hession has worked for USM for 10 years and says she is not a fan of the new policy. Hession says that once the policy starts, she’ll have to find a new place to smoke.

“Well I can tell you this much, I’m not going across the street like they do at the hospital,” said Hession. “I guess I’ll just get in my car and drive around.”

Olivia Winters, a junior at USM and an occasional smoker, doesn’t think the policy will last.

“I don’t think it’s going to last very long because I feel like the vast majority of people who go here, whether they smoke or don’t smoke, feel like people should have the right to do so.” Said Winters.

Non-smokers like freshmen Josh Willet and Chris Nguyen say they support the policy change, but for different reasons.

“I think it’s a very good idea for our campus to be greener and better.” said Nguyen.

“I like it entirely because I see people smoking all around and there’s no-smoking [signs] all around,” said Willet. “Everyone disregards [them].”

Kayla Johnson, USM’s health Educator and Promotions Coordinator, says that this policy is being positively received so far.

“Most of the feedback has been really positive,” said Johnson. “We’ve even talked to people who are current tobacco users and, you know, they’re like ‘I think this is great. I may not be ready to quit yet but I still think this is a great thing that were doing.’”