No Smoking Inside Chattanooga State College Starting July 1

First Posted: Jun 27, 2016 05:27 AM EDT

Chattanooga State College will have smoke-free campus very soon. Starting July 1, smoking, as well as the use of chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes will be banned in the college to help students prepare for a workplace that could reject smoking, a spokeswoman for the college said.

One of the main reasons why the college decided to impose the ban on smoking, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes is school officials think it is the best way to prepare students for a working world that dislikes smoking. "It will help them get the jobs that they're working towards," said Chattanooga College spokeswoman, Nancy Patterson. "To me, it was a surprise how many local jobs require nonsmokers. I think all the hospitals in town require tobacco-free hiring," Times Free Press reported.

Employers in Chattanooga and some other places have started to discourage smoking by banning it at work, charging people who smoke more for health insurance, and even refuse hiring people who wouldn't pass a routine urine test that indicates the use of tobacco. Finding a place to smoke outside the workplace is also getting harder for smokers.

Smoking tobacco is still legal, and Tennessee is one of about 30 states with so-called smoker protection laws on the books. Tennessee's law, which was passed in 1990, states that an employee can't be fired for "the use of an agricultural product not regulated by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission that is not prohibited by law" - which is an indirect definition of tobacco.

However, according to said Jennifer Ellis, spokeswoman for the Society of Human Resources Management Chattanooga, since employers in Tennessee can't fire smokers, they can choose to let go of employees who smoke during the employment process.

"You can't take employment action, so you can't fire (smokers) or not promote them," Ellis said. "But you do have the opportunity to choose not to hire smokers."

Last year, Hamilton County mayors joined forces to launch the Mayors' Smoke Free Community initiative that needed the blessing of the area's legislative delegation to give local municipalities the authority to ban smoking in public parks and open spaces. The campaign aims not only second-hand smoke, but also "third-hand smoke" which is composed of the residue left on smokers' clothes, furniture, and even their pets

Patterson also said that so far, the students have responded positively to the ban. She also said that students who smoke will be offered services to help them quit smoking. Richmond Times- Dispatch has reported that the college is also in the process of transforming "smoking huts" to a solar-powered charging station for laptop computers and smartphones.

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