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UCLA stops smoking on Earth Day

April 22, 2013|By Dalina Castellanos
  • Zak Baron, 20, tries to guess how many cigarette butts are in a cylinder, upper left, on Bruin Plaza at UCLA. In the foreground are jars showing four weeks' worth of cigarette butts collected in various locations on campus.
Zak Baron, 20, tries to guess how many cigarette butts are in a cylinder,… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Heija Yan took a drag from his cigarette as he approached Powell Library on the UCLA campus Monday, not noticing that the ashtrays were empty and askew.

The electrical engineering graduate student had no idea that the university had enacted its tobacco ban on Earth Day. He was profoundly apologetic.

“I know others don’t like the smell around them, but I know [the library] is a popular place to smoke so I thought I’d be OK,” he said, while flicking the cigarette butt into the tray.

The Westwood campus is the first UC to implement the ban, following a call from President Mark Yudof to go smoke-free across the 10-campus system by 2014.

“We’re very proud we’re the first,” UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block said. The campus and its students “are setting an example.”

The Earth Day launch date was especially significant because “in order to take care of the earth, we must take care of ourselves,” Block said.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities have adopted tobacco or smoke-free policies, the university reported, and support will be available to tobacco users on campus to help them quit.

Students at a midday rally were handing out T-shirts imprinted with the words “Breathe Well” and doling out information on where to get free nicotine patches.

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dalina.castellanos@latimes.com

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