THE University of Newcastle’s staged approach to ban smoking on campus began yesterday, with the aim of having a smoke-free campus by next year.
Cancer survivor James Garlick, 22, welcomed the change.
Mr Garlick said smoking had been prevalent on campus.
‘‘I find smoking confronting,’’ Mr Garlick said.
‘‘I find it hard to fathom why people would willingly put themselves at risk of going through what I went through, through no fault of my own.’’
Mr Garlick suffered cancer in soft tissue at the base of his spine when he was 15.
‘‘I had to have chemotherapy and radiation treatment – both of which are not very kind to you,’’ Mr Garlick, Cancer Council and Students Alliance president, said.
‘‘The chemotherapy was like a hangover, but 1000 times worse.’’
He said going through cancer ‘‘also effects the people around you’’.
He could not understand why people would ‘‘willingly put their friends and family in a position where they might have to see someone go through cancer treatment’’.
He said smoking was ‘‘quite shocking, when you realise how well known the problems it causes are these days’’.
The university said designated smoking zones began operating on Tuesday.
The smoking areas will be reviewed, with the aim of reducing them ‘‘until eventually the university is completely smoke free’’, it said.
A research project had been approved to advise how to meet this goal.
‘‘It is hoped the university can progress to totally smoke-free campuses during 2015,’’ a university statement said.
Programs will be run on campus for those who aim to quit smoking.
Cancer Council NSW regional manager Shayne Connell said his organisation was ‘‘thrilled’’ with the university’s initiative.
‘‘Universities are places where young people develop habits and norms,’’ Mr Connell said.
‘‘If we can reduce smoking among university students, that’s going to have a big impact on future uptake.’’
Mr Garlick and Theody Magill started the Cancer Council and Students Alliance on campus, which has 200 members.
Mr Garlick said evidence had shown the ‘‘rate of people taking up smoking and the likelihood of being able to quit are directly related’’ to the availability of tobacco and areas to smoke it.
Mr Magill said the campus was ‘‘a multicultural place’’, with many international students who smoke – as well as Australian students.
‘‘Some cultures don’t see smoking as that bad,’’ he said, adding the alliance aimed to raise awareness of smoking restrictions.