The University Record, April 11, 1994

Most speakers at public forums oppose changes in smoking policy

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Predictably, the 50-foot clear-air zone and proposed ban on smoking in virtually all University facilities were the focus of comments from the 20 University faculty, staff members and students who attended two open forums on revisions to the University’s current policy on smoking.

The proposed policy would prohibit smoking in all leased and owned University facilities, including parking structures and University vehicles; prohibit smoking within 50 feet of outer entrances; and prohibit the sale of tobacco products on University premises. Smoking in resident rooms and apartments would still be allowed, but banned in all residence hall common areas. The policy would allow limited smoking rooms in conference centers and hotels, and would permit smoking for controlled research, educational or religious purposes if approved by the dean or director in advance.

Most of those attending the open forums spoke against the policy revisions.

Joan M. Butler, data base administrator for the University Library, noted that the University has a policy that is already “quite restrictive.

“Since 1987, smokers have been cooperative and considerate [under the present policy] and have gone outside to smoke,” she said. The proposed revisions include the same language as the existing one, she noted, in that it says the success of policy implementation depends on the cooperation and consideration of both smokers and non-smokers.

However, Butler said she feels that consideration has been one-sided—on the part of smokers—and she doesn’t think the University should include cooperation and consideration in the new policy statement.

“You can require it, you can coerce us, but don’t say it’s all cooperative,” she said.

Michael S. Gaubatz, assistant manager of grounds for the Plant Department, asked the panel to consider financial issues related to restricting smokers to 50 feet away from entrances.

“We have firm documentation from the hospital, which instituted a policy much like this last year, that the cost of cleaning up cigarette butts on that tiny campus has increased by about $1,000 per month,” Gaubatz said. He voiced concern that the policy would result in increased expenses and asked the Uni-versity to analyze the cost to the institution before proceeding.

Wendy Powell, chair of the Smoking Policy Revision Implementation Committee, thanked the speakers for their suggestions and comments, and said that the committee would consider all comments before making recommendations about changes in the draft policy to the Executive Officers at the end of April.

Powell has also received three petitions and numerous comments by electronic mail. Additional comments and concerns from faculty, staff and students can be sent to the Smoking Policy Revision Implementation Committee, 1052 Administrative Services Building 1432, or by e-mail to Wendy.Powell

@umich.edu or through Banyan VINES to Wendy Powell@SUCOMP@ASPO.