University officials consider campus smoking ban

Celeste Chance, Contributing Writer

VCU is proposing a new policy that would make the university a smoke- and tobacco-free campus.

The new policy would ban smoking, vaping and use of all tobacco products on university property and would designate outdoor smoking areas for the activities. The proposal comes after a student poll in which more than two-thirds of respondents said they would support the change, said university spokesperson Carolyn Conlon.

The policy would apply to students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors. It does not restrict smoking cessation products that treat nicotine dependence.

“VCU is committed to eliminating known health hazards and promoting healthy habits among students, patients, faculty and staff,” said Thomas Briggs, assistant vice president for safety and risk management, in a news release. “A smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy is a start. Ongoing education and smoking cessation resources will also help our community members make good choices about their health and environment.”

The initiative aims to promote a healthier campus and also reduce tobacco-related fires and litter, according to a news release. VCU Health has had the policy in place since 2010.

The American Cancer Society and CVS Health Foundation recently awarded a grant to Bernard Fuemmeler, associate director for cancer prevention and control at the Massey Cancer Center, and Elizabeth Do, an associate member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at Massey. According to VCU News, the grant will support research into how receptive students, faculty and staff on the MCV and Monroe Park campuses will be to the idea of a smoke- and tobacco-free policy.

Senior Serena Fischer, a mass communications major, said she had to walk a mile off campus to smoke a cigarette at High Point University, where she previously studied. The North Carolina school has been tobacco-free since 2009.

“It would be kind of annoying because I love being able to walk outside after class and smoke a cig,” Fischer said.

Students, faculty and staff can view the proposal at tobaccofree.vcu.edu. It is open for comment through April 12.  

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