CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The coundown is on. Beginning August 1, the Coastal Carolina University Campus will be smoke-free for both students and faculty.
Coastal Carolina officials refer to this as a "soft start" for the students and full faculty that will not be arriving for a couple of weeks. However that does not mean they will be lenient with this new policy.
The University's Board of Trustees approved the policy in December.
CCU officials felt it was time to jump on board with the smoke-free initiative that other college and university campuses have already put in place.
In South Carolina, 23 campuses have approved going tobacco-free.
The Director of News and Public Affairs for CCU explained they took many things into account before making the decision.
They looked at studies that show as a whole, students who don't smoke have higher GPAs and not only that, but the health risks for even second-hand smokers sparked a huge student backing.
CCU officials feel it was time to be proactive instead of reactive to a mandate forcing them to ban smoking. The reason behind this online countdown is for the word to travel -- no more tobacco products on campus at all not even e-cigarettes.
"So that everybody's ready. we want everyone to know about this and be prepared for the transition from having smoking allowed in just a few sections of campus to no longer having tobacco allowed on campus at all," explained Martha Hunn, Director of News and Public Affairs.
All tobacco products will be banned from Coastal Carolina University grounds. Hunn said that means people will not be able to smoke in their cars either.
"There are so many non-smokers, and even smokers, that just don't want to smell it and deal with the constant smoke and that smell!" she said.
Lindsay Hickman is going into her sophomore year at Coastal. She feels this is the way of the future and many places are starting to turn over this new leaf.
First the university limited smoking to a few gazebos, but now they want to steer the community in a different direction through CCU's Live Well Movement.
Nicole Pioli is the Teaching Associate for the Health Promotions Department at Coastal Carolina University.
"We want to offer positive alternatives to smoking. that's why we have information on our emotional health and physical health as well," Pioli said.
Pioli believes live well will act as a hub for both students and staff to lead a better life.
The smoking gazebos have been replaced by picnic tables to help remove that notion people can smoke on campus but students say people did find a way around it.
"It was against the rules to smoke but people found ways to smoke in other places besides the gazebos," says Hickman.
However CCU officials promise that will no longer be happening without consequences. Anything from fines to worse. Faculty will be spoken to within their individual departments but if they do not listen, Martha Hunn explains it will not be taken lightly.
"If they continue to refuse to comply then it can actually be treated as a violation of any university policy. As for students if a student refuses that's a much higher level.. I will not quit smoking. if a student refuses then it will go through the proper department of student affairs."
Coastal Carolina officials say they are not trying to force anyone to quit but rather promote a healthier life style.
The university is offering cessation classes for anyone who wants to quit.
There is also a program for faculty that want to quit called iQuit.
For more information about these programs click on the links below.
For more on CCU's Live Well movement click here.
Coastal Carolina officials and students hope this will not only prevent people from smoking on campus but also help them make an individual choice that will someday impact the entire campus community in a healthier way.