The policy, which is effective Jan. 1, 2013, prohibits smoking anywhere on UNT property.
The university held a public meeting Dec. 6 to give an overview of UNT's new Smoke-Free Campus Policy that is effective Jan. 1, 2013. President V. Lane Rawlins, Jean Bush, senior associate vice president for finance, and members of the Smoke-Free Policy Committee were on hand to answer questions from the students, faculty and staff who attended the meeting.
The university is going smoke-free to minimize the dangers of secondhand smoke and to protect the health and welfare of everyone on UNT's campus. The university conducted a statistically valid survey of students, faculty and staff in April 2012 and found that more than 70 percent of those surveyed were in favor of a smoke-free environment at UNT.
UNT's Smoke-Free Campus Policy, which doesn't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013, prohibits smoking anywhere on UNT property and prohibits the use of smokeless tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in buildings. The policy applies to all UNT-owned or leased property, both indoor and outdoor spaces. And it applies to all UNT students, faculty, staff, visitors, and contractors and subcontractors.
President Rawlins opened the meeting by telling people that UNT created the policy because students and faculty members asked him last year about having one. And after examining the research on the dangers of secondhand smoking and reviewing how many universities are smoke-free, he decided that the university had an opportunity and an obligation to protect non-smokers on campus.
He reminded people that the policy is not intended to get people to stop smoking. I respect people's views and rights, he said.
"I just want to assure you that I have no high moral ground in telling people to smoke or not smoke. That's your decision. But I do think that it is the obligation of an institution like UNT to protect the general welfare of our students and our employees," he said.
Rawlins also told the crowd that the policy would rely on self-enforcement and voluntary compliance, much like the current no smoking policy does. The university is not going to have "smoke police," he said. He wants the university to maintain its friendly, respectful environment.
Bush, the senior associate vice president for finance and chair of the Smoke-Free Policy Committee, gave a presentation on the policy highlights. View the presentation.
- Smoking is prohibited on UNT property (indoors and outdoors) and in UNT-owned vehicles.
- The use of smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes is prohibited in buildings. It is allowed only outdoors, 25 feet or more from a building entrance.
- The sale and distribution of tobacco products are prohibited on campus.
- Smoking is allowed in personal vehicles provided that the windows are closed and waste products are disposed of properly.
As with the current no smoking policy, enforcement will rely primarily on awareness and voluntary compliance.
- If you see a violation, you can respectfully inform the person of UNT's Smoke-Free Campus Policy and ask that they comply with the policy.
- If you witness repeat violations, you should contact Human Resources -- for faculty and staff violations -- or Student Affairs -- for student violations -- so that the violations can be considered in accordance with established administrative/disciplinary policies and procedures.
There are certain exemptions to the policy related to research, performances and mixed-use property, including:
- A research project involving tobacco products or as part of an educational or clinical objective. The principal investigator must obtain prior approval and a waiver from the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Risk Management Services.
- A university-authorized theatrical performance that requires smoking as part of the artistic production. The director and/or performers must obtain prior approval from the head of the department or program in charge of the production.
- Commercial tenants of a university-owned mixed-use property are not subject to this policy. But the policy applies to all UNT employees working on the mixed-use property.
The university has a separate policy in effect for Tobacco-Free Zones, which prohibits all tobacco use in and around applicable buildings based on Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas grant requirements. The Life Sciences Complex is the only Tobacco-Free Zone at UNT so far. This policy will remain in effect.
Once the policy is in effect, the university will post signs on the entry doors of all buildings and around campus notifying people that UNT is Smoke-Free. The university also will remove ashtrays from campus.