Louisiana's legislature passed a law in 2013 prompting all state colleges and universities to go tobacco-free by Aug. 1 of this year. It's been almost two months now since tobacco products have officially been banned on LSU's Baton Rouge campus.
The crowd of smokers outside of Middleton Library has grown smaller since smoking was banned. Brian McCann, associate professor of Communications, says that most have migrated off campus.
“Both by sheer presence of people, but also cigarette butts, Chimes Ave. -- it's kind of all gotten outsourced over there," McCann said.
That's where advertising student Ashley Asafe goes to have a cigarette now, because on campus the attitudes towards smoking have changed.
“I don't see anybody with cigarettes, so it's kind of awkward if you light up a cigarette," Asafe said. "I don't know if somebody's going to pull me to the side and say 'hey, you can't do that."
Students smoking on campus won't be fined or ticketed, but they'll be hard-pressed to find an ashtray, most of which the university has removed.
LSU's new policy asks that everyone refrain from consuming “any and all forms of tobacco” while anywhere on campus. Leaving little room for confusion, the three-page policy goes into minute detail defining what smoking is, which products are banned, and where. Kurt Keppler is Vice Chancellor of Student Life and chaired the board that drafted the policy. The goal, he says, is to encourage a culture of healthier habits. But, just like bans on smoking in restaurants and offices, it will take time.
“Now you can go through any building in Baton Rouge, you'll never see a no-smoking sign, but you won't see anybody smoking indoors," Keppler said. "It took a while, it took some behavior change, but now it's just an assumption and expectation that if you're in a public place, you don't smoke. I guess that's what we're hoping will happen outside on our campus as well.”
While the rate of regular smokers at LSU has dropped to 9 percent since 2007, the number of undergrads identifying themselves as social smokers has been rising, to 24 percent on the latest survey taken in January.