UC President Mark Yudof has announced that all UC campuses will become smoke-free by January 2014. In a letter released Jan. 9 to all UC chancellors, Yudof outlined a plan giving each campus two years to enact a strategy to ensure a smoke-free environment by the 2014 deadline.
According to a press release from the UC Office of the President (UCOP), the ban will prohibit the use of tobacco products on campus, which will include parking lots. The ban will also prohibit the sale and advertisement of tobacco products by campus vendors.
“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable and premature death,” said Grace Crickette, UC chief risk officer in the UCOP press release. “Making all of our campuses smoke-free provides a healthy environment for our students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors. It is the right thing to do.”
In the letter released to UC chancellors, Yudof said individual campus committees would be responsible for implementing the smoking ban. UC Santa Cruz has yet to determine its course of action.
“At this point in time, we have not yet developed a process for implementing this by the January 2014 deadline,” said Jim Burns, UCSC public affairs correspondent. “But we expect to do so soon.”
UCSC implemented smoking restrictions in 1997, but their current scope is minimal compared to the proposed 2014 ban.
“This is obviously more rigid than our current policies,” Burns said.
Under the smoking regulations in effect at UCSC since 1990, the sale of tobacco products by campus vending machines or establishments is banned. Smoking is also banned in all buildings on campus, within 25 feet of windows and doorways, and on all campus shuttles and transportation.
A 1996 status report from the university called compliance with the regulations “sporadic,” and noted a student with multiple chemical sensitivities had filed an informal grievance against the campus under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“The student was suffering serious physical effects from walking through groups of smokers to get to classes,” according to the 1996 report, signed by ADA compliance officer Susan Willats. “The basis of the grievance was that UCSC is not enforcing its own smoking policy.”
The ban has been met with mixed reviews. The 2010 proposal cites several studies finding university students largely in support of similar bans, while other individuals and some publications say the new policy oversteps boundaries.
“You’d have to take a bus [to smoke off-campus],” said third-year Sean McGowen when asked for the previous issue of City on a Hill Press what he thinks of the ban. “I don’t think it’s fair. It’s an imposition on our liberties and freedoms … it won’t stop smoking on campus. Especially for the students who live on campus — they’re 18, they have rights.”
Nearly 585 colleges and universities nationwide have active campus smoking bans. Studies cited in the 2011 Smoke-Free Policy Proposal find the number of students and UC employees below national averages, at 8 and 10 percent, respectively. Still, tension remains while some students — like McGowen — oppose an all-out ban.
“It all comes down to liberties,” McGowen said. “We pay to come to this school. I’m a 27-year-old student and I deserve freedom of choice at the very least.”