FULTON, Mo. (AP) -- A central Missouri private college plans to ban smoking from its campus, and voters in the surrounding city will decide whether to bar smoking indoors.
Westminster College President George Forsythe said a smoke-free environment is safer. The ban takes effect July 1 and applies to athletic facilities and all campus-owned property.
"This policy fits into our mission and values by creating a safe, healthy and clean environment for everyone," Forsythe said.
The Fulton Sun reported that faculty, staff, students and visitors would need to smoke inside personal vehicles or off the school's property. The school's fraternity house would follow national guidelines and continue allowing smoking only in designated outdoor areas away from main entrances, walkways and windows.
The Fulton City Council meanwhile decided to let voters decide whether to impose an indoor smoking ban across the city after several months of debate.
Critics of Westminster College's new smoking policy are protesting the new policy and contend that it goes too far. Omer Aswad, who identified himself as a Westminster College student, said more than 80 people have joined him in opposing the smoking ban.
"In a democratic environment and especially on a college campus, banning things is not the way to go," Aswad said.
Amanda Stevens, a health educator at the college and the leader of an organization seeking an indoor smoking ban in Fulton, said secondhand smoke harms the health of nonsmokers. Stevens said a survey showed that 76 percent of students support a campus wide prohibition on smoking.
"Students who smoke can go off campus or smoke in their own cars if they want," Stevens said.
Stevens said about 12 percent of the school's students are smokers. Surveys show that the campus ban is opposed by 70 percent of the students who smoke.
Westminster has moved to restrict smoking since 2006. More than 300 colleges across the country have banned smoking on campus, including Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville and Washington University in St. Louis.
Arkansas and Iowa have banned smoking from all public colleges and universities. And the University of Michigan, University of Purdue, University of Florida, and Oklahoma State University have banned smoking from their campuses.
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