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University revises smoking policy

Jenn Metz | Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The University’s policy regarding smoking on campus has been updated to include a ban on smoking within 25 feet of the outside of any building.

The change, according to a News and Information release, was approved on Aug. 26.

The primary reasons for the revision are two-fold, Michael McCauslin, assistant director of Notre Dame Risk Management and Safety, said.

The new perimeter will help prevent the “influence or the entrainment of smoke within the building,” he said. “Many of our buildings have pretty powerful intake systems for ventilation, cooling and heating.”

These systems are oftentimes located on the service side of the building, the side that is frequently used as a smoking area, and there have been some incidents of smoke entering buildings, McCauslin said.

A second reason for the change of policy is to bring the University in line with a St. Joseph County ordinance that establishes a perimeter where smoking is prohibited around public buildings, he said.

McCauslin said the county’s ordinance also prohibits smoking within public buildings, restaurants and athletic venues. The ordinance was put into effect in April of 2006.

On campus, the Department of Risk Management and Safety was charged with investigating concerns regarding smoking near buildings. This change in policy brings the University “more into concert with the ordinance,” McCauslin said, which “helps keep [regulations] consistent across St. Joe County.”

The revisions to the policy also incorporate requirements for Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, McCauslin said, which are part of sustainable campus design.

“Each building during the design and construction phase seeks LEED certification,” he said. “We only have a small handful of buildings right now that are going to meet it, but it is something all new buildings will incorporate.”

After campus-wide notifications of the policy are released, the new perimeter will begin to be enforced, McCauslin said.

The Department of Risk Management and Safety is not the office that will handle violations or consequences of smoking in prohibited areas, he said

The department “acts as a finder of fact,” McCauslin said. “We perform the investigation, determine the causes, the effects.”

He said his office will investigate smoking complaints and refer the information gathered to whom it applies in each individual circumstance – in the case of a student, information will most likely be referred to the rector, he said, and the residence hall’s internal policy regarding violations will take over from there.

“We get accurate information and share that with the appropriate person, and then those branches of the University use their own processes,” McCauslin said.

The University first adopted a policy about smoking on campus in 1992, after a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students that dealt with environmental issues reviewed information about smoking and the health concerns of second-hand smoke, McCauslin said.

This first policy prohibited smoking in all campus buildings, he said, with few exceptions, like private offices and dormitory rooms.

Not long after this initial policy was established, these exceptions were removed, and the policy was left unchanged for about ten years, he said.

The policy continues to prohibit the sale, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products on campus as well as smoking in all University buildings.

According to the News and Information release, the policy regarding smoking as well as instructions for filing complaints will be made available online for students, faculty and employees of the University.

Smoking cessation programs for faculty and staff through the Office of Human Resources, as well as programs for students through the Offices of Alcohol and Drug Education will continue to be made available upon request.