Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU goes smoke free

Under a new policy that went into effect Jan. 1, smoking is prohibited everywhere on the University of Denver campus and on University owned or operated buildings or grounds.

Exceptions include city-owned streets and sidewalks that surround or cut through University property plus two areas near the Ritchie and Newman centers.

The policy applies to all smoke products, not just cigarettes, cigars and pipes.

“A policy like this really makes it clear that DU is committed to the health of our community,” says Katie Dunker, assistant director of health promotion at the Health and Counseling Center, who spearheaded the policy over the past two years. “We understand this is going to be a big change for people.”

Dunker emphasized that the new policy — approved by the Board of Trustees — was driven by health concerns.

“The primary goal is to reduce involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke on campus,” Dunker says. “A byproduct is if more people look into quitting, think about quitting or are encouraged to quit.”

University officials say the campus community will be asked to conform to the new policy just as any other, but they emphasize the smoking ban is not an administrative cudgel. Fines and tickets will not be issued. Rather, DU will trust smokers to respect the policy and the campus community to be sensitive to smokers.

“We’re not telling people to quit,” Dunker says. “We’re just saying that when they’re on campus they’re not going to be able to use (smoking products). We don’t want confrontation. We’re in the business of supporting students. If we can eliminate triggers on campus — the smell, the visuals — it will support those people who are trying to quit.”

In addition to banning smoking, the new policy prohibits sponsorship of groups or events that promote tobacco use, bans tobacco product advertisements, and outlaws distribution, sale or sampling of tobacco products or merchandise.

The designated smoking area at the Ritchie Center will vary by event, officials say, so smokers should check with ushers or staff before going outside to light up. At the Newman Center, the smoking area will be off York Street south of the loading dock and north of Knudson Hall, says Steve Seifert, executive director of the Newman Center.

Nationwide, there are about 365 smoke- or tobacco-free schools and universities, Dunker says, including the University of Colorado Hospital Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado Christian University, Denver School of Nursing and the Summit County campus of Colorado Mountain College in Colorado.

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