USF Corrals Smokers on Tampa Campus

Sign of the Times
TAMPA (2012-3-20) -

The University of South Florida's Tampa campus has become one of the biggest places in the state to ban smoking outdoors. Today was the first day where smokers had to drag their butts to a handful of designated areas around campus.

"Actually, somebody told me I needed to go to the smoking area," says Maura Barrios. "They threw me off my usual bench over there."

Still, Barrios says it's OK - she doesn't have to go too far from her office in the History Department on campus to light up. There's no "smoke police" - just "concerned" staff members who will be glad to point them to the designated areas.

This one happens to be shaded - unlike most of the other smoking zones. Sitting next to her under an overhang at the main library was Mary Sweely, who works next door in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"I just feel like it's your choice when and if you want to quit, you'll do it," she says. "But you kind of feel like you're put out."

Staff members who are caught lighting up several times may face getting written up by their superiors. Students who have to walk quickly to their next class may not have it so easy, though. Psychology student Valerie Collins lives in a dorm, and the nearest designated smoking area is quite a walk away. She'll chance sneaking a smoke - hopefully when no one's looking.

"I can't smoke in front of my dorm anymore, so I have to go to a legit area to smoke, which is far from where my dorm is," she says. "So I think it's annoying."

University officials say the ban is intended to clean the air of the odors of secondhand smoke and dirty ashtrays.

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