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April 13, 2014 | by  | in News |
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A Unlucky Strike

The manager of The Hunter Lounge has called for the on-campus smoking ban to be lifted at the Lounge, and VUWSA supports the move.

The manager of The Hunter Lounge, Jack Barber, said he had seen a downturn in profits since the smoking ban was introduced.

“[Customers] said to me that when smoking stopped, they stopped coming in.”

“We had a lot of customers who were in in the morning for a coffee and a cigarette, or in later smoking and having a beer, and aren’t now.”

Mr Barber believes that the students who want to smoke are “going somewhere off campus where they can”, and that the impact of the ban extended past smokers to their friends.

“I get the impression that one person in a larger group who wants to leave because of the smoking ban will take the whole group with them, so it’s not just smokers not coming in, it’s smokers and their friends.”

VUWSA President Sonya Clark said that in her view, the smoking ban “hasn’t worked.”

“I would support a move to make some exemptions to the smoke-free rule – especially at The Hunter Lounge, to make it easier for events to run smoothly. If a smoke-free campus is to be achieved, it is about positively supporting smokers to live healthy lifestyles,” Clark said.

Associate Director of Campus Operations, Rainsforth Dix, said “the University is aware that The Hunter Lounge operator considers Victoria’s smoke-free policy has had an impact on its revenue.”

“We are working with the operator to understand its wider business environment.”

However, Ms Dix says the University will not remove the ban.

“We have no plans to remove the smoking ban that applies to all our campuses. A smoke-free campus means a healthier environment for staff, students and visitors.”

While he thought the ban was “progressive”, Mr Barber said he would like to be able to let customers smoke on the balcony.

“[The ban] is not something I would have brought in myself had the University not brought in the blanket no-smoking policy. I’m not a smoker myself, but I support people’s right to choose.”

“I have told people not to smoke outside, but telling them not to feels like asking them to leave. I’m running a business, I want people here.”

Mr Barber also showed concern regarding the popularity of events at The Hunter Lounge on account of the smoke-free policy.

Due to the fact that they cannot issue ‘pass-outs’, or tickets that allow attendees to return to an event after an off-site absence, The Hunter Lounge is not a smoker-friendly venue.

“If they can’t go out and they can’t smoke here, then they just can’t smoke, and some people would see that as an invasion of their rights.”

Clark agreed, saying the ban “has created problems at Orientation events at The Hunter Lounge – at music gigs, people expect to be able to go outside and smoke.”

When asked if there have been any positive reactions about the smoking ban, Mr Barber said he had not heard any.“I’m sure they’re out there, but no, I haven’t had people saying how great it is.”

GENERAL EFFECT OF THE SMOKING BAN

Students around Kelburn Campus have been frustrated by the concentrations of smokers at all of the entrances to the buildings.

One student told Salient he found the problem with smokers had worsened since the ban.

“Every time we leave classes, we walk through all of these people smoking and it isn’t a very nice note to leave on. When the smoking ban wasn’t in place, that wasn’t a problem because they were all spread out anyway.”

Clark agreed, saying “instead of smokers being dispersed around campus, many students have complained that Kelburn Parade has become a river of smoke to walk through.”

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