The University of Sydney is discussing a proposal to turn the entire campus into a smoking-free zone. Rumours to this extent have been circulating for quite some time, but Honi Soit can now confirm that the USYD senate is seriously considering a blanket ban on smoking within campus which is “very likely to go ahead” according to USU staff.
This news was leaked to the USU’s CEO, Andrew Woodward, who discussed it at the USU board meeting last Friday. The logistics of implementing such a ban are still in the early days of discussion. Senate members are still unsure how to enforce the policy, although a larger security presence on campus is likely to play a part.
The proposal has garnered a mixed reception, with members of the senate worried about preserving civil liberties and upsetting the smokers within university staff. However, other senate members – and students – love the idea of a smoke-free campus. USYD wouldn’t be the first university to make the switch to smoke-free. Macquarie University has been an almost entirely smoke-free campus since the start of the year, and their policy seems to have caused little fuss. It seems USYD will soon follow in their footsteps.
A ban on smoking would create a huge headache for the USU, which sells cigarettes at its commercial outlets in Wentworth and Holme, as well as in machines at Hermann’s and Manning. The university senate expects the USU to stop selling cigarettes if the smoking ban is passed. If the USU defies this expectation, they risk aggravating the university, which they are loathe to do in the light of Michael Spence’s proposed takeover of USU services. On the other hand, if the USU stops selling cigarettes they lose a valuable revenue stream, a loss compounded by risks to the USU’s rental of bars.
Some USU board members worry a smoking ban would change the atmosphere of bars like Manning and Hermann’s. This is particularly significant because the USU rents these places out for external events like parties and concerts. The board worries that if smoking is banned at these places, rental demand will drop, resulting in a loss of revenue at a time where the Union desperately needs to maintain financial health. The Union is investigating alternate revenue streams to replace the sale of cigarettes, indicating how seriously they take the notion of this smoking ban.
While the proposal is still being discussed by the senate, it’s looking more than likely that USYD will soon become a smoking-free campus. While this news makes many students happy, it’s put smokers – and the USU – under some stress. If you are a smoker, now might be a good time to start quitting.