UW designates smoking spots

Smoking Sites on Campus

Smokers are now limited to approximately 50 designated areas where they may smoke on the UW campus.

The areas comply with Initiative 901, which prevents smoking inside public areas and workplaces as well as within 25 feet of doors, windows and vents.

Smoking areas were set up temporarily after the initiative passed last fall and have now been established on a more permanent basis.

"It is our intention that these are permanent," said Dave Leonard, Environmental Health and Safety manager at UW. "But this is a work in progress."

Choosing smoking areas proved difficult for several reasons.

"First off, there are some areas on campus that are much denser than others," Leonard said.

On the other hand, finding locations that would actually be used was challenging.

"Someone isn't going to walk down and back up 50 flights of stairs because they're a smoker," he said.

In determining the areas, Leonard and his crew talked to smokers to find out what areas they would be likely to use.

"Smokers do want to be courteous and they appreciate the areas to be accessible," he said.

The final decision on the smoking area locations will be made in the fall, said Rebecca Deardorff, director of the Rules Coordination Office at the UW.

"We'll hold public hearings when everybody is back on campus in the fall," she said. "In the meantime, we've still got emergency rules covering the gap."

The UW's policy before I-901 addressed concerns such as smoking in vehicles, buildings and dorms. It only needed minor changes to comply with the new law -- the biggest issue being the 25-foot rule.

"We tried to make sure the smoking areas were truly in compliance with I-901," Leonard said. "We had to share some among buildings."

Leonard said the UW wants the smoking areas to be convenient, but also remain few in number.

"There is a balance here between [having] the garbage of cigarette butts and providing some area where people can smoke," he said.

Another goal is to control secondhand smoke, Leonard said. Public input is key.

"Specific comments from local knowledge are helpful," he said. "For instance, if there is an area of high traffic I don't necessarily know about, let me know."

Although smoking areas will be enforced by the UW Police Department, Leonard said the real enforcement comes from the public.

"If someone sees someone smoking in an inappropriate area, the public needs to inform that person," he said. "As public citizens we need to be courteous and remind smokers where they can smoke."

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