To the Daily:
I am writing to offer a few clarifications on the otherwise excellent coverage of my presentation to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs on April 19 regarding the Smoke Free University initiative (At SACUA, Warner says ‘U’ set to go ‘cold turkey’, 4/19/2010). First, I want to emphasize that the Smoke-Free University Steering Committee, which I co-chair, has no authority to make any policies. Rather, we are charged with developing recommendations for the University administration regarding implementation of the campus’s smoke-free policy.
Second, I spent considerable time presenting the challenging issues that confront the committee in developing recommendations, not offering decisions about them. The committee has not yet developed any final recommendations, with two exceptions noted in the article (each of which is subject to reconsideration when we eventually vote on the entire package of recommendations): we expect to recommend going “cold turkey” on July 1, 2011 (i.e., not having “butt huts” or other areas on campus in which people can smoke), and we will recommend against Department of Public Safety officers issuing tickets for infractions.
The Daily reported that “For students interested in quitting smoking, Warner said subsidized behavioral counseling as well as prescriptions for (smoking-cessation) medicine will become available.” It is the committee’s understanding that the University intends to support students wishing to quit, although the specifics of any possible subsidies have not, to my knowledge, been specified yet.
In addition, I discussed the complexity of asking members of the University community to distinguish between city streets and sidewalks and University-owned streets and sidewalks. There are many of the latter on North Campus. The University has no authority over smoking on city-owned sidewalks. I did not say, as the article implies, that the committee will recommend not restricting smoking on some sidewalks on North Campus out of a sense of equity, given that Central Campus smokers have ready access to city-owned sidewalks. I did say that this has been suggested to the committee. The committee has not arrived at any recommendation on this issue to date.
Finally, the article reports that “The current policy allows alcohol (near the Big House) only on Football Saturdays” and the plan is to also allow smoking in those situations. To date we have developed no recommendations at all regarding the issue.
Again, subject to these clarifications, I commend the Daily writer for her excellent coverage of my presentation.
Kenneth E. Warner
Dean, School of Public Health
Co-Chair, Smoke-Free Campus Steering Committee