New smoking policy creates smoke-free zones around campus buildings

Smoking is prohibited within 50 feet of buildings on Western Carolina University’s campus under a policy that took effect Tuesday, July 1.

Smoking receptacles will be removed from building entrances and placed beyond the perimeters, and signs will be posted about the new policy.

“There will be a period of adjustment for all of us as we work together to implement this policy, but this is a positive development for the health and well-being of our campus community,” said Chancellor John W. Bardo.

The state legislature passed laws in 2007 that recognized the health risks of secondhand smoke, prohibited smoking in state buildings effective Jan. 1, and enabled public universities to identify smoke-free zones around their buildings.

The 50-foot perimeter was set after university leaders consulted with and reviewed recommendations from the Staff Forum, Faculty Senate, University Advisory Council and student groups over a six-month period. The process included a campuswide forum where students, faculty and staff asked questions, shared their concerns and made suggestions.

“In 2006, the surgeon general stated that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Karrie Joseph, wellness coordinator at WCU. “The new policy at Western is a significant step toward meeting one of our Healthy Campus 2010 objectives – to reduce the proportion of nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.”