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College Considers Outdoor Smoking

March 29, 2000

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ Penn State University students weighed in Wednesday on whether their campus should be tobacco-free, both indoors and out.

Penn State banned smoking indoors in 1992. On Wednesday, students voted on whether to ban it outdoors as well.

An extended ban would still need approval from school administrators.

The issue isn’t second-hand smoke, but the outdoor litter problem that has grown since indoor smoking was banned. The school now spends $150,000 annually paying landscapers who pick up butts and empty outdoor ashtrays.

``Our landscapers keep (the campus) in a pristine condition. The only sore spot we’ve got is this cigarette litter,″ said Paul Ruskin of the Penn State campus maintenance office.

The idea of a campuswide ban was broached by student government leaders following a meeting with school officials last December.

The plan also drew impassioned opposition from many students.

``I implore all that value their freedom, both smokers and nonsmokers, to have their voices heard on this,″ one student, Rick Sollman, wrote in Wednesday’s issue of the Daily Collegian newspaper. ``Today, send the university a message. Tell them that you are fed up with the attitude that they are our parents.″

Other students questioned whether the university would be able to enforce it.

At least one school already has such a policy: Harding University in Searcy, Ark., has long barred the ``use or possession of tobacco″ among students.

Many other schools are smoke-free inside.

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