University smoking ban skips over enforcement

Last updated 05:00 26/12/2012

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A move by Victoria University to extinguish smoking on campus has prompted questions about how the ban will be enforced.

Students and staff were asked in August to have their say on the university's proposal to make all four of its campuses smokefree.

More than 2400 submissions were received, with 72 per cent in favour of the ban.

From next April, students and staff craving a cigarette will have to move on to public land, such as Kelburn Pde or Cobblestone Park, outside Te Aro campus in Vivian St.

Patrick Barnes, 19, a student, said he was in favour of the smoking ban.

"[I] won't have to put up with the smell of smoke when walking through campus any more, and it's not like there is nowhere for them to smoke - they can just go on to the Kelburn Pde footpath."

But David Edmonds commented on Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association's Facebook page: "I'm not a smoker, but people should still have the right to do what they want as long as it's not illegal."

The ban will also affect campus eateries Milk & Honey and The Hunter Lounge - both of which are used as dining and events venues for the public - as well as to halls of residence.

The university's existing Safe Campus Policy prohibits smoking within 3 metres of a building, but this is widely ignored, prompting speculation that the new smoking ban is something of an empty gesture.

When asked whether resources would be devoted to upholding the policy, Victoria University spokeswoman Shelley Cartwright said the university planned to "focus on education [and] making sure that people are aware of the new provisions, rather than enforcement".

Ms Cartwright said people who wished to give up smoking would be supported in the lead-up to the smokefree implementation.

She was also unable to comment on what repercussions, if any, students or staff caught smoking would face.

All three Massey University campuses are smokefree except for designated smoking areas.

Spokesman James Gardiner said that staff did not "patrol" campus looking for students violating the policy, but "all staff, students, and visitors to the campuses, including contractors, are expected to abide by the smoke-free policy".

Auckland University became completely smokefree in 2010, and registrar Tim Greville said the policy had made a "noticeable difference on campuses", even though it was not actively enforced.

Canterbury University and AUT University are also smokefree.

Victoria's policy will take effect on April 1.

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- The Dominion Post

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