On December 5 last year, the governing body of the university, the Senate, passed the Smoke-Free Environment Policy. Since January 30 this year, the new policy bans smoking on all campuses of the University of Sydney.
The policy recognises the adverse effects of smoking and passive smoking, and supports the idea of the University becoming a smoke-free environment. Binding all students, staff, affiliates, and visitors, smoking will only be allowed within designated smoking areas. These areas have been identified with “Smoking Area” signs, and ash trays will be provided for cigarette butts.
By limiting the areas where smoking can occur, the University aims to protect the community from secondhand smoke and reduce the impact on the environment from discarded butts. In support of the policy, all Campus outlets owned by the Union have also ceased their sale of cigarettes.
This prohibition of smoking isn’t entirely new to the University. In August 1984, the Senate adopted a general ban on smoking in lecture theatres and during classes and tutorials. Then in July 1989 a policy prohibiting smoking in shared workplaces was adopted.
With public opinion consistently supporting smoking bans in public places, universities across Australia have accepted smoke-free areas. The University of Queensland does not permit smoking in the vicinity of outdoor eating areas or allow cigarette vending machines on campus; Macquarie University only allows smoking outdoors in designated areas.
Undergraduate Fellow of the Senate, Ben Veness, has supported the policy from the start, and maintained a keen interest in its development last year.
“I trust that most people will do the right thing and non-smokers may even feel empowered to politely remind or inform smokers of the new rules,” he said. Veness cited Macquarie University as an example, where compliance has remained fairly high without any enforcement actions.