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UNM planning to reduce designated smoking areas by half

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect website for the state’s quit smoking program. It has since been corrected.

The University of New Mexico will try to clear the air on its main campus by cutting in half the areas where people can smoke or use tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices.

University officials can fine people who smoke in non-designated areas, reported the Daily Lobo, though a UNM administrator told the Journal that offending parties would be warned before fined. Fines start at $100 and have yet to be used.

These changes are part of a new policy on smoking adopted earlier this year, said Pamina Deutsch, an administrator who oversees university policies. She added that the goal is to create a healthy environment.

“Smoking and tobacco use are known health hazards, not only to smokers but also to passers-by and others who are subjected to secondhand smoke,” Deutsch told the Journal.

A committee of students, staff, faculty and members of the state’s Department of Health recommended the change, and President Bob Frank approved it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in six American adults 18 years or older smokes. The CDC also says smoking is “leading cause of preventable disease and death.”

The university currently has eight outdoor smoking areas on main and north campuses. By fall 2017, two smoking areas will remain near dorms, and two more will be available at the Health Sciences Center. Current smoking areas on the main campus, such as the one near Zimmerman Library, will be phased out.

The policy prohibits people on campus from smoking outside designated areas, though this rule is often flouted. Consider Laura Swanson, a junior smoking a cigarette while walking across campus Thursday. She said she didn’t understand the fuss with smoking in open-air areas.

“I think there’s so many other problems that need to be addressed,” Swanson said.

And graduate student Mike Russo, who was smoking near a designated smoking area, said the current setup seems like a fair compromise and it would be stupid to get rid of smoking zones. He added that he does try to respect the school’s policy on smoking in proper areas.

Deutsch also recommended that those who want to quit take advantage of the state’s cessation program. For information on this program, call 1.800-QUITNOW or go to