This is an archived article.

February 22, 2007

Regents make it official: UW campuses smoke-free

The UW Board of Regents “took a strong stand for health and safety” when they adopted permanent rules at their January meeting that make all UW campuses smoke free, said Karen VanDusen, director of Environmental Health and Safety. Such rules had been in place as emergency rules over the past several months.

The no-smoking rule is the University’s approach to meeting the requirements of I-901, passed by Washington voters in 2005. Among other provisions, the initiative banned smoking in places of employment and within 25 feet of building openings and air intakes. The University has long prohibited smoking either inside or outside University buildings in areas that impacted indoor air.

The new rule extends those principles but does recognize not everyone is ready to quit smoking, VanDusen said. Even with the no-smoking rule, exceptions can be made for certain outdoor, designated areas, all of which are away from doors and windows that open and have been approved by the local health jurisdictions, who are the enforcement agencies. The ban applies to all buildings either owned or leased by the University, and all University-owned vehicles.

Maps of designated smoking areas at the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses are available at: www.ehs.washington.edu/psosmoking. The Seattle listings include addresses and some photographs. Currently, the Seattle campus has 36 designated smoking areas, Bothell 10, and Tacoma six.

The no-smoking rule will be enforced in a manner similar to the previous rule on indoor smoking: through UW work place policy and UW’s campus police and/or local police at other campus sites.

Several people welcomed the new rules, saying they themselves don’t smoke and don’t want to inhale secondhand smoke. “Don’t pollute my air,” said Darlene Feike-ma, director of Administrative Services in the Office of Student Life. She added that designating smoking areas is good, as she’ll know which areas of campus to avoid.

Several other people said that the rule will be difficult to enforce because campus police can’t be everywhere, and members of the campus community aren’t likely to confront smokers lighting up in illegal places. “It’ll be hard to enforce the rule,” said Matt Rollins, a UW junior.

In conjunction with the new measure, the UW is promoting programs for smokers who would like to quit. All UW-sponsored health insurance plans for faculty and staff offer no-cost or low cost smoking cessation programs. Hall Health offers a free program for students; it’s also available to non-students for $40.

The new approach represented by the Initiative process seems to indicate a definite shift in the acceptance of smoking in society, and more stringent rules against smoking may encourage smokers to stop, said Katy Dwyer, UW director of Benefits & Worklife. The UW programs back that hope. “This is a long-term commitment,” she said.

For more information, contact Dave Leonard with EH&S, who can assist with designated smoking sites at 206-543-7221, dleonard@u.washington.edu