Colleges and Universities and Purdue University and Education & Workforce Development and Smokefree workplaces and Workplace Issues

New Purdue smoking policy sparks complaints

October 11, 2010

Purdue University's effort to limit where people can smoke has sparked dozens of complaints and even a few fires in an overfilled receptacle, but university officials say they are still working out kinks in the system.

The policy, which took effect July 1, limits smoking to 22 designated areas across campus. It also bans smoking in all vehicles owned or leased by the university.

Smokers say it's too restrictive and that areas aren't well labeled.

Senior Dallas Howard told the Journal & Courier of Lafayette that some smokers resent being restricted to areas that he says are often dirty or poorly labeled. A receptacle near the student union has caught fire because it's too full, he said.

"That is the most awful smell—burning cigarette butts," he said.

Howard said some of the areas are impossible for nonsmokers to avoid walking through, and he thinks the university should install more receptacles.

David Lehmann, president of the Pipe and Cigar Club, said the smoking areas aren't working for the club's 40 members.

"We tried smoking in the smoking areas. The things about those, they are small and not well kept and there is no place to dispose of cigars and they are not big enough," said Lehmann, a junior. "The smoke is so intrusive that we really can't smoke in these areas now."

Under the old policy, smokers were required to stay at least 30 feet from university facilities or in designated areas in the Union Club Hotel in the Purdue Memorial Union. The club was able to smoke at Founders Fountain behind Beering Hall.

Lehmann and the Purdue Student Government are asking that the smoking policy be changed to allow clubs to apply for a permit to have a designated smoking time.

Carol Shelby, Purdue's director of environmental health and public safety, said she has received two to four complaints a week about the policy. Most are from people complaining about violators or asking for more receptacles in designated smoking sites, she said.

She said she doesn't expect Purdue to add smoking areas but that it needed to re-examine the site near Purdue Memorial Union and Stewart Center that has caught fire and another near McCutcheon Hall.

"This is all about changing behaviors, and it takes time," she said.

Shelby said all student groups are required to follow university policy.

The Indiana General Assembly is expected to once again tackle the issue of a statewide smoking ban when the Legislature convenes in 2011. Indiana is among 11 states without a statewide law prohibiting smoking in public establishments.

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