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Smokers will be persona non grata on all UC campuses soon

Hospitals are increasingly saying no to hiring smokers.
Hospitals are increasingly saying no to hiring smokers.
Oday Obaid/Flickr

Smokers won't be allowed to light up too much longer at University of California campuses.

UC President Mark Yudof announced this week that all 10 of the system's schools must ban smoking within the next two years.

UCLA went "smoke free" in certain areas of campus two months ago — specifically indoor and outdoor areas of hospitals and health sciences campuses in Westwood and Santa Monica, and also buildings along a research corridor. (Check out a map.)

The new policy has gone off without a hitch, despite some anxiety before it went into effect, said UCLA professor Timothy Fong, who was part of the task force that worked on the new policy. Now, however, he said there's been a visible increase of smoking and cigarette butts outside the smoke-free zones.

"That's all the more reason why a campus-wide effort would be a tremendous service for enforcing these policies," Fong said.

Fong said it took nearly nine months to plan and execute transitioning about 30 percent of UCLA's campus to smoke-free zones. The task force learned a lot of lessons along the way, including the importance of providing people with information and gaining support from the campus community.

Police do not enforce the smoke-free zones; instead, employees hand out "reminder cards" to people they catch lighting up, Fong said.

Approximately 13 percent of Californians currently smoke, while the national average is 21 percent, according to statistics provided by UCLA.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@LATams).