Penn State snuffs out smoking with bans

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – A broad ban on public smoking indoors may be revolutionary for the borough of State College.

Several borough council members are looking to make the town the fifth Pennsylvania municipality to outlaw smoking in enclosed public places, including bars.

But on the adjacent Penn State campus, it’s already life as usual.

In fact, more than a decade since Penn State snuffed out smoking in classroom buildings, at least two regional campuses have taken their tobacco rules to a new level.

Since January, the College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., has prohibited smoking anywhere on the grounds – including in private vehicles and outdoor sidewalks. An exception applies to student housing.

At the Lehigh Valley campus, smoking is confined to parking lots. That policy, enacted last semester, won support from nearly 75 percent of the student body there, according to a campus survey.

Brian Mauro, the student-affairs director at Lehigh, said he’s hopeful that Penn State administrators will adopt similar measures universitywide.

“However, we’re realists,” Mauro said this week. He expects opposition from people who see the policies as infringements on smoker rights, he said.

Still, the 20-member Commission for Substance Abuse Prevention, a universitywide group, is lobbying for tougher rules.