Joining about a thousand campuses nationwide, the University of Alaska, through its Board of Regents, will become smoke-free. Campuses statewide have until the end of this year to implement it. Wednesday, University of Alaska Southeast is the first to officially become smoke free.
Gwenna Richardson is a staff member at UAS Ketchikan, and she knows the designated smoking spot she has been using will disappear, and isn’t sure where she will go.
“Don’t know yet. Down the street or out in the woods or something I don’t know.”
The policy isn’t just for cigarettes, either. Vice Chancellor for Administration for UAS Michael Ciri said it applies to all forms of smoke and tobacco.
“You would not be allowed to smoke tobacco cigarettes, or to use chew, or to use electronic cigarettes, but you would also not be allowed to smoke clove cigarettes for instance that might not have tobacco in it but are still generating smoke.”
The policy extends to all University property, which doesn’t always have an obvious border.
“On the Ketchikan campus and on the Juneau campus, we’re fairly porous. There are lots of ways to walk onto campus. There are many front doors. It becomes a lot less clear where are those boundaries.”
The boundaries don’t include smoking inside a private vehicle parked on campus, so people could smoke in their cars. Richardson says that will create a different problem.
“They can smoke in their cars, but the butts are going to go in the parking lot and it’s just going to trash it.”
She said she will be all right under the new policy, but others might have a harder time adapting.
Vice Chancellor Ciri said he isn’t sure if the new policy will drive people away who might otherwise come to the university or perhaps make it a more welcoming place for people who can’t tolerate smoke, but the university isn’t trying to pick sides.
“Smoking is a real issue and people who smoke have their sets of needs as well, but as a University, we need to be sensitive to the needs of everyone and balance them as best we can. ”
He says each campus will have some leverage as how they enforce and implement the ban, but it willbe consistent across the system that the University of Alaska is tobacco and smoke free.