UF residence halls to receive inaugural smoke-free certification
Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.
University of Florida’s residence halls will be the first living spaces to be recognized under Tobacco Free Florida’s new Smoke Free Certification Program.
The nine-county pilot program kicks off at 10 a.m. today at the Murphree Commons with a presentation of a smoke-free certificate to the university, said Andrew Romero, tobacco prevention specialist for the Alachua County Health Department.
On hand to help launch the program will be Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong, Alachua County Health Department Administrator Paul Myers, UF Director of Housing Norb Dunkel, and Dave Kratzer, UF vice president for student affairs.
Alachua County initiated the certification program and began accepting applications when the state took an interest, Romero said. The local program was put on hold, and it transitioned into a Tobacco Free Florida pilot project that will include Escambia, Indian River, Leon, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Orange and Pasco counties.
“This is a voluntary certification that Tobacco Free Florida is offering to apartment communities,” Romero said. The certification gives business owners a way to advertise the benefit of living in smoke-free communities and helps Floridians decide where to live, he said.
It also gives state and county health officials another tool to help curb second-hand smoke.
Statistics show that 80.7 percent of Florida adults don’t smoke, 85.6 percent of Alachua County residents don’t smoke, and 91.4 percent of UF students don’t smoke.
“If you think about those numbers and how many communities are marketing the fact they are smoke-free, we feel there is a strong market for this amenity,” Romero said.
Second-hand smoke is particularly pernicious in apartments, Romero said, because it travels from unit to unit via air ducts and cracks in the walls.
The certification is a three-tiered ranking system, he said. Blue certification recognizes a community that enforces a smoking ban throughout the property, indoors and out. Gold certification is for communities that prohibit smoking indoors and within 25 feet of the property and amenities. Silver certification recognizes policies prohibiting smoking indoors.
UF residence halls and graduate and family living quarters will receive Blue certification, while the Continuum will receive a Gold certification, Romero said.