ATLANTA, March 19 (Reuters) - Smoking will be banned on all campuses of Georgia's public colleges and universities, beginning next fall, including barring tobacco use at outdoor football games.
Officials of the state's public universities voted for the ban on smoking and all tobacco products on Wednesday. The ban will include e-cigarettes.
"Our aim with this policy is to preserve and improve the health, comfort and environment of employees and any persons occupying (campus) facilities," said Marion Fedrick, the University System of Georgia's vice chancellor for human resources.
Adopted by the university system's Board of Regents, the ban would affect 31 public university campuses in Georgia.
Nationally, there are more than 1,100 colleges and universities with smoke-free campuses and 811 of those ban all tobacco products, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
"We have been noticing over the last five years an enormous growth in the number of campuses that are passing smoke-free and completely tobacco-free campus policies," said the nonprofit group's chief executive, Cynthia Hallett.
Half of Georgia's college and universities have already adopted smoke-free policies, according to the state.
Smoking contributes to 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, including 42,000 deaths from secondhand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria Group which owns three U.S. tobacco companies including Philip Morris USA, declined to comment on Georgia's new campus ban. (Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Kevin Gray)