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UNIVERSITY SMOKING POLICY

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 31 - May 22, 1997

(Editors' note: President Paul Torgersen has put into effect a new university smoking policy. The memo announcing and describing the new policy follows.)

I am sending this memorandum to announce that in response to the recommendations of Virginia Tech's Environmental Health and Safety Services, and an increasing number of complaints from faculty and staff members and students regarding second-hand smoke, I have made the administrative decision that effective immediately, smoking will not be permitted in any university-owned or leased facility.

Exceptions to the policy are contracted sleeping rooms in student residential and special-purpose housing, which constitute private residences, and the atrium in Hancock Hall, which had previously been designated to recognize the Philip Morris Company.

Since our original smoking policy was developed in 1989, a significant amount of research has been produced citing the dangers and adverse effects of second-hand smoke. Because of this growing body of evidence, and the concerns expressed by an increasing number of faculty and staff members and students who are regularly and unwillingly exposed to second-hand smoke, I requested a thorough evaluation of our smoking policy in light of health-and-safety considerations. This review consisted of testing of air quality in facilities; a survey of vice presidents and deans regarding the effectiveness of the policy of '89 in consistently protecting the health and safety of all of our employees and students; and a review of correspondence and reports from employees and students over the past several years.

Following their examination of our air-handling systems, Environmental Health and Safety Services has recommended that university buildings be designated smoke-free facilities. They have concluded that our systems are not capable of adequately handling and properly ventilating smoke out of private offices, hallways, and lobbies, and that a consistent, university-wide policy has now become necessary.

As you may know, a large number of our buildings had already been declared smoke-free since 1989, also for reasons of health and safety. I and those with whom I have consulted realize that smoking policies are a sensitive topic for both smokers and non-smokers. In revising the university's administrative policy in this way, we have responded to what I believe to be our responsibility for the work place health and safety of all our employees and students. We have made this decision with the knowledge that a growing number of educational and health-care institutions, along with retail and food-service establishments, are already well ahead of us on this topic.

It will be the responsibility of each supervisor, manager, department head, director, dean, vice provost, and vice president to consistently enforce the provisions of this policy in his or her area of accountability. The revised policy is available on-line at http://gopher.vt.edu:70/0/administration/policies/1000/1010.