UMD goes smoke-free this fall

No more smoking
Smoking and other tobacco use is being banned at UMD starting this fall, as well as at Minnesota State University Moorhead in January 2008.
MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson

(AP) - The University of Minnesota Duluth will go mostly smoke-free Sept. 1 -- even outdoors -- and will prohibit smoking everywhere on campus starting in May.

With a statewide indoor smoking ban for most public places taking effect this fall, it made sense to push for a total campus-wide ban, said Brianna Peters, a senior and co-chairwoman of the UMD Student Health Advisory Committee.

Minnesota State University Moorhead approved a similar ban last spring, but it won't go into effect until January.

Campus grounds, buildings and university vehicles are included in UMD's ban.

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But the university carved out one exception: The ban won't affect smoking outside of residence halls until May 19, because of the contracts students who live there have with the school.

"I understand why they're doing it, but I don't think it's going to stop anyone from smoking - especially around finals."

For the past two years, UMD has required smokers to remain 25 feet from open windows, entrances to buildings and air supply vents.

"It really doesn't do the trick," Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said. "If we were going to do this, and we had to do this, it was time."

Martin said that after hearing repeated recommendations, she decided this week to "quit thinking about it."

"By this point, it seemed to be a no-brainer," she said. "I don't want to be disrespectful to those who have smoked all their lives. I know this is going to be difficult."

A poll taken two years ago showed that less than half of the student population smokes, Peters said.

"The smoking population is like, 'We don't want it, you're just targeting us and being mean to us.' But in actuality they're not the majority," she said. "You just see more of it because they're huddling around the doors."

The chancellor said she expects UMD's smokers will comply.

"We're hoping enforcement isn't an issue," Martin said.

If violations are reported, offenders probably would receive a warning and Martin would "invite them to come in for a conversation."

Senior Liz Burfitt was smoking outside the library Tuesday. She said the new policy didn't bother her.

"If I did want to have a cigarette, I'll just go out to my car," she said. "I understand why they're doing it, but I don't think it's going to stop anyone from smoking - especially around finals."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)