Plans for smokefree campus on hold

16:00, Mar 06 2014

Witt's smokefree campus policy has been stubbed out.

Last year, Witt announced it was going smokefree on January 1, after a survey in 2012 found 60 per cent of its respondents wanted a healthier campus.

The policy meant smokers had to puff outside its gate on residential streets.

But Witt's stance on a smoke-free campus backfired when the new term began last month and Witt has now made a designated smoking area in its open air car park.

Neighbour complaints were among one of the factors to the reversal, marketing manager Danny Hall said.

When the Taranaki Daily News visited the campus, there were about 20 smokers huddled there for their morning break. First year student Ashlee O'Hanlon said even though she was a smoker she was supportive of the campus being smokefree.

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"Only some people do smoke and about three quarters of the school don't, so it's fair enough to be smokefree," she said.

Josh McDonald, also a first year student, said the outdoors should be a smoking area and the designated area was "a bit of a walk" from his class but laws were laws.

Mr Hallsaid the institute was still committed to being a smokefree campus but it also had to be realistic about its goals.

"It's a tricky one," Mr Hall said. "Initially, it was to have the campus completely smokefree but when it took place, we saw the impact of the decision."

Mr Hall said there were going to be smokers on its campus and Witt did not want to "pass them on" to neighbours

"We have to do it in a responsible way for our students and neighbours," he said.

The question now is what Witt can do to support smokers transition to non-smokers, Mr Hall said.

"Our health centre supports them with smoke patches," he said. "We know it's not easy for smokers to stop smoking."

Taranaki Daily News