Panel discusses making RI college campuses smoke-free

Anti-tobacco advocates claim more than 1,200 college campuses around the country have gone smoke-free in the past few years, but none in Rhode Island.

They hope to change that.

A panel discussion Monday at Brown University's medical school included local and national health officials and anti-smoking advocates. They talked about ways to increasing tobacco awareness and cooperation among colleges and universities.

Students NBC 10 talked to were mixed on banning smoking altogether.

But supporters claim anti-smoking campaigns make a difference.

"We have saved about 8 million lives in the U.S. due to people not starting to smoke or successfully quitting," said Clifford Douglas of the Tobacco-Free College Initiative.

"I am a smoker so it would be inconvenient," said URI student Carly McGee. "Maybe if we had separated smoking areas it would be helpful."

"People are going to smoke when they want to, so it's better to have a designated area where they can throw away whatever they need to so there won't be cigarette butts all over campus," said URI student Alex Silver.

In Massachusetts, a number of schools, including Bristol Community College, are smoke free.