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'U' officials outline plan to carry out smoking ban

BY JOSEPH LICHTERMAN
Daily News Editor
Published January 23, 2011

Once the campus-wide smoking ban goes into effect this July, smoking on University property will only be allowed on sidewalks that are adjacent to public roads, according to the Smoke-Free University Initiative Report released today.

The report, prepared by the Smoke-Free University Steering Committee, establishes how the Smoke-Free Initiative will be implemented across the University, including the campuses in Dearborn and in Flint. The Smoke-Free Initiative is University President Mary Sue Coleman’s push to eliminate smoking from the University’s three campuses starting July 1.

In Ann Arbor, the rule permitting smoking only on sidewalks next to public roads will be uniform across Central Campus, North Campus and the Athletic Campus on roads owned by the University that the public travels on, according to Robert Winfield, the University’s chief health officer and director of University Health Services and co-chair of the Smoke-Free University Steering Committee.

“On Central Campus, that was a pretty easy decision because those sidewalks are joint jurisdiction with the city, and we actually don’t have any right to prevent smoking along the sidewalk along a public thoroughfare,” Winfield said in an interview last week. “On North Campus, all of those thoroughfares are University owned, and we decided for the sake of consistency and respect we would continue to allow people to smoke along those sidewalks adjacent to public thoroughfares.”

Smoking will be prohibited on all other University owned sidewalks besides those adjacent to public roads — including, but not limited to, sidewalks bordering driveways, loading docks and parking lots or structures, Winfield said.

“Basically, we’re going to have smokers, who continue to choose to smoke, move to the edges of campus space,” Winfield said. “Sidewalks across the Diag, sidewalks across the Engineering campus, the Music campus, and so on are all off limits.”

Smoking will only be allowed in a University parking lot or structure if the smoker lights up in a privately owned vehicle, according to the report.

The report states that there was “substantial discussion, and differences of opinion” about allowing smoking within vehicles. The committee agreed to review the measure in two to three years.

To discourage smoking on campus, the report recommends no new smoking shelters, or places to smoke outside, be installed on campus. Additionally, it requested that all cigarette butt containers be moved from outside buildings to near public roads.

Implementation of the smoke-free policy will cost approximately $240,805, according to the report. Included in the budget is the addition of a program coordinator to help oversee and implement the Initiative.

This individual, who has not yet been hired, will report to the manager of the University of Michigan Health System’s Tobacco Consultation Service and will be in charge of education, training, evaluation, data collection and enforcement of the smoking ban.

In an interview last week with The Michigan Daily, Coleman said she is pleased with the committee’s report.

“I’m actually very happy with it, and we’ll move full speed ahead,” Coleman said. “We really needed time for preparation, and I like the fact that we’re starting now because I think campuses that tried to (ban smoking) from one day to the next with no preparation just didn’t work. So this gives us some time, and we’ll try to resolve the issues. I think it’s the right way to go.”

Though smoking will be prohibited in unauthorized areas starting July 1, individuals caught smoking on campus after the ban is implemented won’t be ticketed or arrested. Instead, Winfield said the rule will be policed by peer pressure — comparing the ban to when seat belts were first put in automobiles.

"It's much like what I experienced when seat belts came in," Winfield said. "They were put in every car by law, but you weren't required to use them. There was more and more media attention to the safety that they gave you and more and more people were using them."

Changes to the University Standard Practice Guide will be made to reflect the new policy, and signs will be posted throughout campus to inform visitors and guests of the smoke-free policy.

“We don’t plan to make this something where people get tickets,” Winfield said. “On the other hand, there are ways to address these issues. Let’s say there is a person who continues to smoke right outside a residence hall. Somebody could take that individual through the OSCR process with the Office of Student Conflict Resolution as a complainant.”

Winfield said that if a University staff member is found violating the policy, the person’s supervisor would go through “the standard disciplinary process” outlined in the Standard Practice Guide. While Winfield said this process “could include discharge,” which is the worst case scenario.

The committee’s recommendations were made with smokers and non-smokers in mind, Winfield said. According to the report, focus groups were held and surveys were conducted over the past year and a half in order to gauge how the University community felt about the initiative.

Subcommittees made up of students, faculty and staff were also established to advise the committee in writing their report. The subcommittees consisted of smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers.

While the Tobacco Consultation Service will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the initiative, a new advisory committee — established by the University’s executive officers, chaired by Winfield and composed of students, faculty and staff — will be in charge of reviewing and potentially altering the policy after implementation.

Winfield said one of the issues the committee may undertake is to examine the scope of the smoking ban. For instance, properties off campus that are owned by the University, like Wolverine Tower located on South State Street will also be subject to the smoking ban.

“Wolverine Tower is owned by the University, but there’s a Comerica Bank there,” Winfield said. “We haven’t addressed (whether Comerica employees are subject to the ban), and I honestly don’t know how that’s going to be settled.”

Winfield said the Chancellors of the campuses in Dearborn and Flint will enforce the smoking ban in ways that are most prudent for their individual campuses.


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