The new smoking area has been in use since June 3. The droppits for cigarette butts have been removed and smokers now have to make do with a few square metres of space and two benches. ‘There will always be students who smoke elsewhere on the quad, but I’d estimate that 70 percent of people are obeying the rules’, says Harmonie building manager Robert Rossingh. ‘I expect staff to ask students to move to the smoking area. We’ll also ask the superintendents to enforce the new policy.’
Smoking near the entrance is forbidden at all RUG locations. ‘We’re enforcing the policy as much as possible. It takes time: you can’t change behaviour overnight’, says RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker. ‘We’ve discussed how best to handle this with the municipality. We have to be able to maintain it ourselves, because it only applies to our own grounds.’
The RUG regularly cleans up the enormous amount of cigarette butts in the Broerstraat and smokers are confronted about their behaviour. But Bakker also encourages people to quit smoking: ‘We offer courses to help people with that. It’s a lot healthier.’
The RUG has been working on refining its smoking policies for several years, since Groningen has ambitions to be the first smoke-free city in the Netherlands. This last smoking area at the Harmonie building will probably disappear in another year.