Friday, January 10, 2003

University of Hawaii

Smoking banned on most
of UH campuses — sort of

By Helen Altonn

The University of Hawaii began a policy today to prohibit smoking in many areas of its campuses and encourage smokers to kick the habit.

But while the policy prohibits smoking in various areas, university officials acknowledge that the rules will not be enforced with citations or any other punishment.

It "really has to be enforced by the social norm and culture of the campus," said Hye-ryeon Lee, UH-Manoa assistant speech professor and member of the Community Partnership for Health and Fresh Air.

The new Tobacco Products Policy says it is "an effort to improve the working and learning environment of the university and protect faculty, staff, students and visitors from secondhand smoke exposure while on University of Hawaii campuses."

UH President Evan Dobelle said that "Hawaii is one of the healthiest places on Earth, and as a state we have been extremely forward-thinking in our commitment to public health."

Besides specifying the voluntary nonsmoking areas, the policy does ban advertising and sales of tobacco products on all campuses and would bar tobacco groups from sponsoring campus activities or organizations.

Scheduled to join Dobelle in announcing the new policy were Julian Lipsher, director of the Tobacco Prevention & Education Program of the state Health Department; Clifford Chang, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii director; Anna Taua, Moanalua High School senior and member of the Hawaii Youth Movement Against Tobacco Use; and Josiah Alamu, UH graduate student in public health and secretary and newsletter editor for the Association of Graduate Students of Public Health.

Alamu, in an interview, said the policy "came at the right time."

"I know more than 80 percent of the students do not want smoking at all. Students are going to support it," he said, citing studies showing health risks to smokers and nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke.

Lee said the Community Partnership for Health and Fresh Air was formed after students and staff showed interest in the issue during university "visioning" meetings in February. It was the driving force in developing the tobacco policy with strong administrative and wide-based support, Lee said.

Lee said UH tends to have lower smoking rates than campuses elsewhere, but surveys of students, faculty and employees during the past two years showed the need for a strong policy to protect their health. Many smokers also said they wanted to quit, she said.

Under the voluntary part of the new policy, smoking is now prohibited:

>> In all interior areas owned, rented or leased by the university.

>> In building courtyards, breezeways and terraces, on exterior stairways and ramps and outdoor dining areas.

>> Within 20 feet of building entrances, exits, air intake ducts, vents and windows of buildings that are not air-conditioned.

>> Within 50 feet of designated campus and public bus transportation pickup and drop-off points.

>> Within stadium and arena gates.

>> In any area designated as a nonsmoking area and marked with a no-smoking sign by the person in charge of the area.

No-smoking restrictions also will be phased into the university's dorms and residences, starting with 80 percent in the next academic year and including all of them in 2004-2005.

More information about the tobacco policy is available on the Web at

University of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk


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