Tobacco Task Force Seeks to Amend Smoking Policy

Posted: June 24, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Adam Modzelesky

The Tobacco Policy Task Force has proposed a new smoking policy for George Mason that requires tobacco users to smoke at least 25 feet from all building entrances and exits and for residence halls to become completely smoke-free.

The task force presented its recommendations to Karen Rosenblum, vice president for University Life, and the President’s Council last month. The group provided administrators with sample smoking policies from other universities, related articles, data obtained via surveys and focus groups, and letters of support for the recommended policy. Ultimately, however, the task force was asked to provide more information.

Formed in the spring 2001 semester with six members, the task force reviewed Mason’s current smoking policy, University Administrative Policy No. 40. The policy has not been updated since 1993, when smoking inside buildings was prohibited.

Policy No. 40 states: “In response to the Surgeon General’s repeated warnings on the dangers of tobacco smoking, enactment of the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, and the need to provide a healthy environment for students, faculty, and staff, the university is a ‘smoke-free’ environment.” However, this policy is not strictly enforced, the task force found. Five residence halls allow smoking, for a total of eight smoking floors.

The task force has proposed the following:

  • All new residence halls currently being constructed at George Mason will be smoke-free upon grand opening and will remain smoke-free
  • Beginning in fall 2004, all remaining freshman residence halls are smoke-free
  • By fall 2006, all housing at George Mason is smoke-free
  • Smoke-free includes no smoking in lobbies, rooms, hallways, lounges, etc.

Inclement weather has been considered, and the committee, having consulted the Student Senate, has proposed exempt locations to this policy for such cases.

The proposal also calls for ashtrays to be placed 25 feet from entrances and exits to encourage compliance, posters to be posted around campus to serve as reminders of the policy, temporary green and gold tape to line each major entrance and exit, and “thank you” cards to be issued to persons following the new policy and “reminder” cards issued to persons ignoring the policy. Peers and community members would be expected to enforce the policy should it be adopted.

The committee would like the 25-foot boundary requirement to go into effect in fall 2004 and recommends a semester-long public awareness campaign to prepare students for the policy change. New students would be informed of the policy at the summer 2004 orientation, and feedback concerning the policy would be solicited through open forums and comment boxes.

The Tobacco Policy Task Force will reconvene this fall. For more information, contact Peter Mohle at (703) 993-2870.

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