Possible University of Memphis smoking ban irks some students

(WMC-TV) - The University of Memphis is discussing possibly suspending students caught smoking in non-designated areas.

Smoking bans have been established at universities across the country.  Now, the University of Memphis is hoping to implement their own policy next summer, but not without some objections.

"I'm paying money to go here and the fact that I can't smoke on campus makes me upset," said student Rachel Stein.  "Very much so."

The university recently announced their campus will go tobacco-free effective July 2012.  Thursday, students spoke out about the school becoming a non-smoking zone.

"Being told where I can or can't smoke bothers me, and being told that I could possibly get suspended for it really makes me upset, too," said one student.

University of Memphis Dean of Students Dr. Stephen Petersen talked about the possibility of suspension.

"The University of Memphis is not in the business of trying to throw students out of school," said Petersen.  "Certainly the possibility for suspension is a very remote one, and that would happen, I suspect, if a student continued to violate the rules and continued to show disrespect for the academic community that we call the University of Memphis."

Students like Stein said they feel the ban is an attempt to encourage students to stop smoking.

"It's the fact that they're saying to me or to others, you need to quit," said Stein.

Petersen said the ban is strictly about health consciousness.

"Secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous to public health," he said.  "That's really what's behind it.  It's not about judging people who smoke or don't smoke, it's about the health of our students and the health of our campus."

Despite rumors that smoking will be completely prohibited, a spokesperson at the University of Memphis said the tobacco ban will allow for designated smoking areas throughout the campus.

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