New smoking restrictions at SCU
A directive from Southern Cross University that bans smoking “on all paved and concreted areas”, and extends the smoke-free perimeter around all buildings to 10 metres has outraged some and been warmly welcomed by others.
The change in policy was sent as an email to all staff and students from the university’s executive director of corporate services Malcolm Marshall last Thursday and was “effectively immediately”.
An email response from PhD student John McPherson generated vigorous cyber debate.
“This sudden measure seems to be somewhat draconian and, to my reckoning, has far more to do with public relations than public health or the physical and mental health of members of the university community. This appears to be an act that is determined to punish those in the university who conduct the legal practice of cigarette smoking, and certainly exhibits no portion of caring for their health. Instead it is clearly an act of partitioning them off so that they suffer from the extremes of weather that occur in this region,” Mr McPherson’s email said.
He told The Echo he wasn’t pro-smoking, but was protesting the way in which the decision had been made without consultation.
LEXUS (Lismore and External Union of Students) president Nathan Apps said the University had not provided anywhere for smokers to go that had protection from the sun and the rain.
“It appears they are trying to be proactive on public health, but they haven’t provided any alternative for smokers... I’d like to see them take some steps to accommodate the significant amount of people who choose to smoke,” he said.
Malcolm Marshall was away on leave this week, but the university’s director of Human Resources, Sharon Farquhar, said since the announcement they had been inundated with responses.
“The overwhelming majority have been very positive, thanking us for the changes,” she said.
Ms Farquhar said the change to the policy had been made because of numerous complaints by staff, students and shop keepers about cigarette smoke.
“There were complaints about it entering offices through open windows, affecting people eating lunch in eating areas... and we did have a smoke free workplace policy in place. This is an amendment that tightens up the rules,” she said.
Ms Farquhar said there were extensive lawn areas for smokers and trees for shade, and that the university was looking at what facilities it could provide to accommodate smokers.
“We won’t be leaving them out in the sun and the rain. We will find an area that is appropriate to smoke,” she said.