UCD students vote for a smoke-free campus

UCD students have voted in favour of making their university campus a smoke-free zone.

In a recent UCD Students’ Union referendum, 55 per cent of students voted to ban smoking in all places on the Belfield campus.

This result means UCD SU will support the proposal by the university’s health promotion committee to ban smoking on campus.

Approximately nine per cent of students voted in the referendum on Tuesday October 1st and Wednesday October 2nd. The proposal of the referendum was, “This union supports the smoke-free campus initiative, as proposed by the UCD Health Promotion Committee”.

UCD Welfare and Equality Officer, Cian Dowling, told The College View that UCD SU “will back whatever students tell us to do”. He said it was important to hold a referendum on this proposal as he saw mixed reactions from students “at both ends of the spectrum”.

The result means the proposal will be supported but the ban will not necessarily be implemented.

If the smoking ban is also supported by staff, it is likely to be implemented in October 2014, which would make UCD the first university campus in the country to ban smoking.

Dowling doubted that a ban would stop students from smoking completely as “it’s more of a cultural thing”. He said “I don’t think banning it (smoking) is the way to get rid of it”.

It has not yet been decided how the ban would be enforced, should it be put in place.

ASH Ireland, the country’s leading anti-tobacco advocacy organisation, has been campaigning for third-level institutions to have smoke-free campuses and pitched the idea to UCD’s health promotion committee last year. Designated smoke-free areas, such as outside the Arts Café, were created shortly after.

Trinity College is also considering plans to become a smoke-free campus.

The college is currently conducting a study to assess the practicality and acceptability of such a ban after the matter arose at the TCD board. Concerns have been raised that monitoring such a ban will be difficult and that forcing smokers out of college grounds will lead people to gather at entrances and exits in large congregations.

There are no plans for DCU to have smoke-free zones or a smoke-free campus at present.

Laura Colgan

Image Credit: Annemarie Kelly

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