UMD to put bite on smoking
The University of Minnesota Duluth says it's now going to enforce its smoking ban, but in a far friendlier way than a ticket. The ban has been in place since fall 2007, when UMD became the first public university in the state to institute one. Bu...
The University of Minnesota Duluth says it's now going to enforce its smoking ban, but in a far friendlier way than a ticket.
The ban has been in place since fall 2007, when UMD became the first public university in the state to institute one. But it's been more symbolic than anything. Smokers still gather outside university doors and cigarette butts pile up without ashtrays, students have said, because the ban has never been enforced.
"There definitely have been groups of people that have ignored it," said Jackie Millslagle, interim vice chancellor for academic support and student life. "There
doesn't seem to be any outreach to those groups to seek compliance at a higher level."
At the end of March, UMD hopes to roll out a new policy, which will include organized patrols of the campus, especially in the 15 or so "hot spots" where smokers congregate. Instead of tickets, smokers will be asked to extinguish cigarettes and be offered a card with smoking cessation information.
"It's an addiction," said Susan Beasy Latto, a UMD spokeswoman. "The idea is not to hunt them down and punish them, but to help them stop."
An October forum held by the Student Association found that students were overwhelmingly in favor of either enforcing the ban or getting rid of it. A task force presented ideas to Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin, which she approved this month.
The Student Association originally entertained allowing designated smoking areas and smoking in personal vehicles, as well as fines for violations. Josh Gillson, the association's president, was part of the task force.
"I went into this task force with student concerns in mind and have tried my best to make sure they are heard," he said. "The university does not want backward progress ... so that means we will not be making [smoking] shelters."
In the end, smoking was not allowed in personal vehicles, and there won't be fines.
Still, Millslagle said, "We're going into this fairly confident the community will comply," noting: "It may take a couple of years to change the cultural norm on this campus."
The "supporters" -- UMD's term for the people who will enforce the policy -- could include students who want community service hours, along with faculty and staff. All will be trained in dealing with confrontation. The UMD police will patrol in areas of the campus that prove to be difficult.
"The uniforms carry some weight," Millslagle said, although police can't issue tickets because smoking outside is not against the law.
Students who continually violate the policy will be punished under Student Conduct Code guidelines, and employees who do will be reported to their supervisors. Those who want to report sites where smoking is consistently seen can use a special e-mail address.
The American Lung Association has given UMD a grant to help promote the new policy this spring. March 22 is the start of a kick-off week to celebrate a smoke-free campus, Millslagle said.