Smoking policy often ignored, not enforced

By Alle Rorie

UK’s Smoke-free Policy is more than a year old, but many members of the UK community are unaware of it or simply do not comply.

The policy — which requires smokers to be at least 20 feet away from entrances, air intakes and windows of all university buildings, parking structures and enclosed walkways — was enacted by the Board of Trustees in November 2006.

“I have observed (the rule) being violated fairly frequently, which is unfortunate,” said Ernie Yanarella, a faculty representative on the board. “My hope would be that those individuals who feel the need to smoke would honor this particular rule.”

The policy is designed to keep secondhand smoke out of buildings, making the air healthier, according to the rule.

“The preponderance weight of evidence with regard to secondary smoking is overwhelming and convincing with regard to this as a public hazard,” Yanarella said. “It seems to me therefore that we have a right to call on the campus community members to honor this particular regulation.”

Students who were smoking outside of campus buildings had mixed responses about the policy. Several of them were unaware that the 20-feet rule existed and others had never seen it enforced.

“I don’t think anybody pays attention to it,” said Chris Langefeld, a philosophy senior. “I’ve never seen it enforced, and I have no idea who would enforce it.”

The Student Code of Conduct does not specify disciplinary action for violations of the smoking ban but general disciplinary procedures begin with a warning followed by a written reprimand and finally probation, which would suspend student privileges and exclude violators from extra-curricular activities.

Many smokers said they are generally respectful of the rule except during bad weather. If it is raining, smokers are more likely to be closer to building entrances, they said.

“Everybody is pretty good about it,” said Gwen Goines, a biology and psychology senior. “Wherever there is an ashtray is where I usually see people smoke unless it’s raining. If it is raining, people are just trying to get under shelter.”

A proposed revision to the policy that would ban smoking entirely on the medical center campus and that would give UK President Lee Todd the authority to create regulations regarding tobacco use on campus will be discussed at the March 4 Board of Trustees meeting, said Jeff Dembo, a faculty representative on the board.

If the revision is adopted, the policy would take affect by November.

“We need to make sure all constituents of people associated with the university understand what the policy is and why it is there so they have the chance to be informed about it,” Dembo said. “Then, if they choose to flaunt the policy, to disregard it, then there should be the same type of enforcement as there would be for riding a bicycle in an unlawful manner or a manner that is unsafe.”