UA drafts smoking ban, outlook for smokers hazy
by Sam Allen
The University of Alaska is moving toward banning smoking and the use of tobacco products system-wide by December 1, 2015 according to a policy being drafted by statewide administration.
Last week, members of UAF student government and the Fresh Air Campus Challenge Committee were sent a draft of the policy from Eric Seastedt, UA Chief Human Resources Officer. The policy, coming out of UA President Patrick Gamble’s office was written with input from the three UA Chancellors.
The draft is expected to be reviewed and the issue to be voted upon at the next Board of Regents meeting in Anchorage on Dec. 11 and 12, according to ASUAF President Mathew Carrick.
If approved, smoking and the use of all tobacco and tobacco-related products would be prohibited within all university property, buildings, vehicles and events according to the draft. The proposed ban applies to all students, faculty, staff, vendors and contractors on campus.
Operating electronic smoking and vaporizing devices would also be prohibited, regardless of what is being smoked, according to the policy. Tobacco containing chews, dips, snuffs would also be banned.
Exceptions to this ban are personal vehicles on campus and areas within a fenced construction site, provided that any smoking is done 50 feet within the existing fence.
Gamble asked for letters from each chancellor in October concerning whether to maintain the current tobacco policy, limit smoking to designated areas or go tobacco free.
UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said that in his letter to Gamble he supported going tobacco free for a number of reasons. He said the 50 feet from the doorway policy is not working. “I get regular complaints from people about breathing in puffs smoke while they’re going to and from work or classes,” he said. Also, he points out the knowledge of the negative health affects of smoking is more accepted and known.
In Rogers’ letter he put in a couple of stipulations. One of the comments he put in the letter was to have at six months of implementations or a transition period. Another was to have a way for students and staff to be allowed the use of tobacco cessation products. He also recommend for an exception for smoking in private vehicles as there is a many transit students on campus and they should have that freedom.
Rogers says they’re going to enforce the ban with public pressure from non-smokers. “With out budget situation we’re not gonna have a whole bunch of tobacco cops out there.”
The UAF Faculty Senate adopted a resolution on Nov. 3 supporting having designated smoking areas on campus. The UAF Staff Council passed a resolution in favor of designated smoking areas in late October.
The last known student poll on the issue was conducted by ASUAF in Fall 2013. One-hundred-forty-one people participated and 52 percent of them supported a smoke free campus. That is less than two percent of the student body and, “unfortunately not a clear direction one way or the other,” said Carrick.
Rogers addressed the concern specifically with the UAF School of Management.
“Some programs we need to offer at two or three universities in the region,” Rogers said. Many students taking business classes work full or part time while they’re working towards their degree. Moving the department to another campus would prevent students working jobs in the community an opportunity to earn a degree.
Determinations are made to spend more money on certain programs. For example, the engineering building gets it funding from the capital budget, so it’s not from the same revenue stream as academic programs. However, heating and lighting the building comes from the legislative budget, which is the same budget that helps pay for academic programs. So we have made a decision to put more money into certain departments.