Radford student body supports smoking ban
University’s own smoking policy widely unknown, incorrectly presented
Signs outside Dabney and Bonnycastle dorms on McCormick Road that tell students “No Smoking in Building or Within 20 Feet of Building” do so incorrectly since the correct distance is 25 feet.
Confusion about the University’s smoking rules, however, goes beyond official signs. Many students remain unaware of the ban on smoking near buildings. “I haven’t really heard of it so … I don’t know what that tells you,” third-year College student Rachel Drescher said.
Radford University students last week voted to ban smoking on campus altogether. Radford’s current smoking policy, which the student anti-smoking efforts could modify, is similar to the University’s: both schools ban smoking in campus buildings and within 25 feet of a building.
Radford students voiced support of an all-out smoking ban by a margin of 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. About 1,600 students voted, said Emily Redd, president of Radford’s student government association.
“It’s almost impossible to enforce the current 25-foot rule,” Redd said. “We want to make it more viable or come up with another solution.”
A similar ballot process at the University could be a good way of assessing student opinion on the school’s smoking policies.
“Student Council could certainly collect opinion data from the student body and pass legislation supporting changes that students found beneficial,” Student Council President Johnny Vroom said in an email.
The University’s smoking policy was last updated in October 2008. The Medical Center’s policy was approved June 2010 and prohibits the use of tobacco products in buildings, parking garages and on the Medical Center grounds.
The University passed its current smoking policy to comply with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, a law prohibiting smoking inside certain public facilities, University spokesperson McGregor McCance said in an email. The act states that violators of the smoking ban may be fined up to $25.
The Office of Environmental Health and Safety, which serves as a liaison between the University and external regulatory agencies, reviews the University’s smoking policy every three years, McCance said. Any substantive changes to the policy ultimately go to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for approval. The Board of Visitors does not need to approve administrative policies.
Changing the policy would likely be far from simple, as the Radford example shows.
“It’s always divisive,” Redd said. “Any solutions depend on the way the discussion turns out [and] it depends on a lot of different groups having to come together.”
Staff in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety were unavailable to answer questions about enforcement, penalties and whether the University was considering any expansion of its smoking ban.