Smoking near the door

Since the start of the academic year, smoking near the entrances of RUG buildings is forbidden. But the ban is largely ignored. And no one says anything to people lighting up.
By Kevin Schilder / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Every RUG building’s entrance has been adorned with signs indicating the smoking ban and each building has a so-called smoking boundary; within these lines, people are not allowed to light up. But the ban doesn’t seem to be having much effect, a quick survey of several RUG buildings at Zernike and the city centre shows.

‘The RUG has no authority to take action against students who smoke. Students know this, which is why everyone still smokes near the doors’, says first-year business student (and smoker) Daan Swets.

Banning smoking from the entire university is rather ambitious, says international student Dewy Peters. ‘They have implemented the anti-smoking rules without providing any proof to suggest they have worked elsewhere. They tried this in my previous educational institution and the ban failed.’

Cloud of smoke

Non-smokers, however, are saddened. ’Having to walk through a cloud of smoke every time you want to enter the building is awful’, says pharmaceutical PhD student Simon van der Pol upon entering the UB.

He is not the only one complaining. Religious sciences student Ludo Aerts says that the ban is fairly useless if there is no one to enforce it. Right now, it just looks like an empty political gesture, he feels. If the RUG really wants to do something, they should offer courses to help people stop smoking, for instance.

‘Just don’t’

RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker doesn’t see the smoking boundaries as an empty gesture. ‘We want our students and staff to work in a healthy environment. An environment full of cigarette butts and clouds of smoke isn’t healthy.’

But it’s up to the students themselves to not smoke near the entrances, she says. ‘If there is a sign saying you can’t smoke somewhere, don’t smoke there. It’s their own responsibility.’ People can complain to the buildings’ concierges. It’s their job to take action against the smokers.

Little use

But the concierges often don’t take any action. One desk clerk at the UB says she ‘sometimes’ points the smoking ban out to people, but that it’s little use. ‘When one group has been ordered to leave, another immediately shows up. I can’t spend all day outside’, she says.

UB spokesperson Frank den Hollander says the concierges are fairly powerless when it comes to chasing away smokers. They also have their everyday work to think of. ‘It says smoking isn’t allowed. So people just shouldn’t smoke there. But it’s an addiction, and it’s difficult to reason with addicts.’

The university says it will investigate the complaints. But there will be no courses to help students or employees quit smoking, says Bakker. ‘We’re not offering people help to lose weight, either. It’s not the university’s job.’



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