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March 25, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Up in Smoke

Butts out at uni, but not in the sexy way

Student and staff smokers are feeling put out by new university regulations which will ban smoking on campus from late April. The smoke-free campus change means that no one can smoke on any Victoria University campuses or properties—including halls of residence, the Hunter Lounge, Milk and Honey and outdoor spaces around campus—from April 29 this year. Smokers will be asked by Campus Care to move off campus, and provided with advice on support available for stopping smoking. The decision to go smoke-free was made following a consultation period last year, where staff and students were asked to have their say on whether they were in favour of a smoke-free campus.

Overall, 72 per cent of the more than 2400 respondents were in favour of becoming smoke-free.

However, many expressed concern about smokers gathering at entrance points to the university, while others said that the restriction of freedom of choice and providing designated areas for smokers were major concerns. Victoria University Chancellor Ian McKinnon said that a smoking ban would provide a healthier workplace for everyone on campus. “Smoking has a negative impact on the environment generally [and] therefore an adverse impact on the other people on campus who don’t actually smoke,” he said.

The University’s decision to implement a smoke-free campus from April, as opposed to the beginning of the calendar or academic year, has sparked criticism. VUWSA President Rory McCourt is “disappointed” that the start date isn’t January 1. “Consultation last year showed that students overwhelmingly supported a smoke-free campus, but that it shouldn’t be done in a forceful way. Our members said it ought to be introduced from January 1st. VUWSA passed on those views,” said McCourt.

Campus Services Associate Director Rainsforth Dix says the decision to become smoke-free after the mid-trimester 1 break was made to allow time to “effectively communicate” the change to new and existing students. “The focus will be on educating people about where they can smoke, by way of posters, signage and web information,” she says. Dix also told Salient that the University anticipates the costs of promotional materials and advertising will be approximately $3500. The VUWSA logo will not appear on posters promoting the smoke-free change after the VUWSA Executive failed to pass a motion for the move. “VUWSA will be supporting students who wish to give up through resources and referrals,” said McCourt.

Currently, the University’s safe Campus Policy prohibits smoking within three metres of a building, in vehicles owned or hired by Victoria, and in service areas. Campus Services staff have compiled maps outlining the proposed smoke-free areas. The maps indicate Kelburn Pde and Cobblestone Park (outside the Te Aro campus) as areas smokers would be able to use.

The changes have been met with opposition by some students on campus. One student and smoker Salient spoke to said the University shouldn’t take away students right to smoke on campus. “We’re old enough to make the decision whether to smoke or not, its just ridiculous.” Another student Salient spoke to said that a smoke-free campus is just an addition to other smoke free public spaces. “You can’t smoke at schools, cafés, or bars now—so why should you be able to smoke at uni?” she said.

Auckland University became smoke-free in 2010, and registrar Tim Greville said that although the policy was not actively enforced it had made a “notable difference on campuses.” “This light-handed approach has been most appropriate and successful to the point that it is not even controversial that all our campuses are smoke-free,” he said.

Canterbury University and AUT University are also smoke-free. Massey University’s grounds are smoke-free, except for designated smoking areas.

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