The American Lung Association called on all U.S. college and university campuses to completely ban tobacco use earlier this month in a study that found that one in five students are smokers.

The report, which studied students’ smoking habits, states that at least 500 campuses have already banned tobacco use in dormitories and, of these campuses, 130 colleges across the country have banned smoking both indoors and outdoors.

Fewer students are smoking than ever before, according to the ALA report – 19.2 percent of college students smoked in 2006, the lowest rate since 1980, down from a peak of one third of students in 1999. However, the report states that levels are still “unacceptably high,” well above the rate set as a national goal by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of 12 percent of adults by 2010.

Georgetown, which banned smoking in student residences in the 1980s, has no current plan to institute the all-out ban recommended by the report, according to Andy Pino, director of media relations in the Office of Public Affairs.

“While there are no current plans to change this policy on the main campus, we are continuing to explore new ways of promoting a culture of wellness,” he said.

According to the Web site of the Office of Student Affairs, Georgetown’s official smoking policy is to “achieve an environment as close to smoke-free as practically possible.” Smoking is prohibited in all indoor locations on campus, and outdoor smoking cannot block entrances, transmit smoke into buildings or cause others to be exposed to smoke.

Pino further said that smoking is permitted only 25 feet from building entries and windows. However, this restriction is not well known and is not well enforced, as smokers often mill around entrances to buildings, such as the Intercultural Center, with a cigarette in hand.

According to the university policy, while the Office of Student Conduct is responsible for ensuring compliance of the rules by students, there is a shared obligation among members of the Georgetown community.

“Faculty, staff and students are responsible for enforcing the policy with visitors and are encouraged to direct other[s] to designated smoking areas,” the student affairs policy reads.

On the other side of campus, a movement toward prohibiting public smoking began before the ALA released its study. Georgetown University Hospital, which has been owned and operated by MedStar Health since 2000 together with an academic partnership with the Georgetown University Medical Center, plans to prohibit smoking on the entire hospital site by Nov. 20, according to hospital spokesperson Marianne Worley. The Georgetown University Hospital is one of eight local hospitals operated by MedStar that will be going smoke-free starting in November.

Although smoking in designated areas was previously allowed, no employees, patients or visitors will be allowed to smoke anywhere now, including on terraces and sidewalks.

Despite the rising number of institutions limiting smoking areas, some schools have bucked this trend by deciding to maintain public smoking places on campus, including inside student residences.

Haverford College, for example, contains 41 smoke-free living spaces with all others allowing smoking if all parties consent.

“When the current policy was developed, it was thought that the students should determine community standards about smoking in their own living spaces,” said Chris Mills, Haverford’s communications director. “Outside of those spaces, students work through smoking as they do all community issues: by exchanging values in the quest for a solution.”

The ALA noted the importance of university smoking regulations, reporting that the prohibition of smoking in campus residence halls is the main factor in the reduction of smoking on campus in recent years.

The College Tobacco Prevention Resource reports that at current rates, an estimated one out of nine of today’s college students will die of tobacco-related illness.

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