BUTT OUT: Why USQ has banned smoking on campus
THE University of Southern Queensland will ban smoking at its campuses from next month.
Student success and wellbeing director Dr Christie White said it had been a seven and a half year process to implement the ban, which comes into effect on May 31.
"We gradually introduced this to our campuses in that period, first with having smoke-free areas, spaces that were smoke free," Dr White said.
"Then we moved to smoking in designated areas only.
"We've tried to have a gradual introduction to this through these staged approaches, in hope that people become familiar with it."
Dr White said the university had introduced this ban in conjunction with Queensland Health.
"The university has no intention to make this a punitive strategy, this is from an educational and positive position working in partnership with Queensland Health to improve health outcomes for our community," she said.
"There will be an opportunity to go through a quit process in an educated and supported way.
"There is a free quit program for staff, and both students and staff will have access to health services and counselling serves to help in the transition to being smoke free."
Dr White said if a student or staff member were found smoking on campus the new policy would be explained to them, though repeat offenders would be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Dr White said she hoped the new "life changing" policy would have a positive impact on staff and students.
"We've already 15 staff members and two partners who have registered for the free quit program," she said.
"People are embracing this and seeing this as an opportunity to quit in safe and supportive environment."
She said there were counsellors and other support services available for students who turned to cigarettes to deal with stress.
USQ is not the only university to ban smoking on campus, the University of Queensland, which operates a campus at Gatton, is set to introduce their ban on July 1.
Dr White said she believed most universities in Queensland would be smoke free by the end of this year.
A 2016 Queensland Parliament report into smoking in educational facilities found about 17 per cent of 18 to 39 year olds in Queensland were smokers, though no data was available on how many university students were smokers.