Friday, May 25, 2012
More details on UNT smoking ban released
Enforcement of the policy will rely on communication and voluntary compliance.
Though specific details of the UNT campus smoking ban set to go into effect in January 2013 are still being worked out, President V. Lane Rawlins hopes to have a draft of the smoke-free policy circulating by the fall.
UNT will join more than 700 universities around the U.S. that have banned smoking on campus, including the University of Texas and Texas State.
“This will make the campus safer,” Rawlins said. “I am sympathetic with those who are smokers and this is not intended to ostracize them.”
In February, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas announced a new policy for schools eligible to receive funds, calling for tobacco-free zones around university research buildings. UNT receives about $200,000 a year from the Institute for prostate cancer research in the Life Sciences Complex.
The smoking ban gained momentum following university research into the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke and a survey of students and faculty conducted by University Relations Communication and Marketing.
Five hundred-twenty eight students and 307 faculty and staff members were asked to take the online survey, which found that 72 percent of students and 78 percent of faculty and staff were in favor of a smoke-free campus.
Enforcement of the policy will rely on communication and voluntary compliance, Rawlins said.
“We don’t have any anticipation of any kind of punishment. The worst that could happen to somebody is they’re going to be reminded that we have a no-smoking policy and someone will ask them not to smoke,” Rawlins said.
A Facebook group, “UNT Students Against a Smoking Ban,” has attracted more than 660 members since the smoke-free policy was announced on May 7, and an online petition against a smoke-free campus had 60 signatures as of May 24.
The group describes itself as a forum for students against the ban to consider alternatives and organize against the policy.
The petition lists alternatives to UNT going completely smoke-free, including the possibility of designated smoking areas.
Rawlins said UNT “will eliminate the designated smoking areas” under the new policy.
The petition also states that a smoke-free policy would not help students quit smoking, and asserts that enforcement would be practically infeasible.
“As the role of dean of students and being over CSRR [Center for Students Rights and Responsibilities] we’re not going to be the smoking police,” said Maureen McGuinness, dean of students and vice president of student affairs.
Rawlins said input from the UNT community would be included in the final policy.
“I believe this issue will be self-enforcing,” Rawlins said. “If it turns out that self-enforcement doesn’t work then we will talk about it again.”
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