Recognizing that smoking is a major cause of premature disease and death, and that even indirect exposure to tobacco smoke is a health hazard, Columbia University’s Medical Center, Barnard College, and 824 other institutions of higher learning have enacted smoke-free policies. Columbia’s Morningside and Lamont campuses have experimented for the last two years with a policy that prohibits smoking within all University facilities, and within 20 feet of all University buildings, except for the public thoroughfares within and surrounding these campuses. The effectiveness of this policy with respect to the Morningside and Lamont campuses was evaluated in the summer of 2012 by members of the External Relations and Research Policy Committee’s Smoking Policy Task Force co-chaired by Professor of Nursing Elaine Larson and Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Francis Y. Lee. Dr. Lee reported the Committee’s findings at the September 2012 Senate Plenary session (Two-Year Evaluation of Smoking Policy Adherence on the Morningside and Lamont Campuses). The report’s findings indicate the current policy has been ineffective.
The decision to implement an incomplete ban on smoking on the Morningside and Lamont campuses was predicated on the assumptions that the University would implement and enforce the policy, including increased efforts to communicate the availability of smoking cessation assistance, and that students, staff, and faculty would adhere to it. None of these events have occurred. Therefore, Dr. Debra Wolgemuth and I submit the following resolution for the Senate’s consideration:
Be it resolved that all Columbia University facilities, buildings and grounds, including athletic properties and College Walk, should be smoke-free. Smoking should be discouraged but not prohibited on public thoroughfares adjacent to Columbia’s campuses. Accordingly, cigarette butt containers and waste receptacles should be removed from building areas and relocated next to public thoroughfares along with signage indicating Columbia’s smoke-free status. The impact on surrounding areas should be monitored.
Be it further resolved that all parking structures, surface lots, University buses and other University-owned vehicles should be smoke-free. This does not include privately owned vehicles within these locations.
Be it further resolved that peer support, supervisory oversight and voluntary compliance should be relied upon to lead to behavioral changes over time. Campus police should be instructed to advise individuals found smoking on campus that they are in violation of Columbia’s smoke-free policy. Smokers refusing to extinguish the product or repeat offenders should be addressed through existing disciplinary or other appropriate processes. Columbia University should provide resources to support managers, supervisors, students, faculty, and staff with methods to address violations in a respectful manner. The University Handbook should be updated to reflect the University’s smoke-free policy.
Treatment and Support:
Finally, be it resolved that University Health Services and Community Relations departments should increase efforts to communicate to faculty, staff and students the availability of support for their stop-smoking efforts.