Smoking? Not at the RUG

On Monday, a large, colourful sign with the words ‘Rookvrije Generatie’ (‘Smoke-free Generation’) was placed in front of the Academy building. It symbolises the cigarette-free era the RUG wants to see.
By Thereza Langeler / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Sibrand Poppema, RUG president, installed the sign on Monday. Similar signs can be found at the UMCG, the Hanze University, and the municipality building at the Kreupelstraat. They were made by children for the Healthy Ageing Week, which was started on Saturday, 7 October.

‘Groningen wants to be the first smoke-free city in the Netherlands’, says RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens. ‘We installed these signs because Healthy Ageing is an important theme for not just the university, but also for the UMCG and Hanze University.’

‘We just don’t want it’

But the RUG is doing more than just installing children’s art. Their smoking policy has become increasingly strict. The immediate surroundings of university buildings are smoke-free zones: smoking next to entrances is prohibited, and no cigarettes are allowed at the UB’s roof terrace, either.

‘We just don’t want people smoking in front of our buildings’, says Deekens. ‘It’s unhealthy and gives off the wrong signal. Smoking is bad for you, end of story.’ Any die-hard smokers ignoring the signs are given a talking to by the doormen. ‘But that only happens occasionally.’ The RUG will not be ticketing people. ‘We don’t have the authority to do that. But I don’t think it’ll be necessary.’

Addicted

Student and smoker Jan Willem op de Haar gets it. ‘It’s fair, not being allowed to smoke near the entrances.’ He does think that it’s ‘a bit of a shame’ that it’s not clearer where he is allowed to smoke. ‘I picked a spot between the UB and the Vrije Universiteit. Sure, there’s a ‘no smoking’ sign here as well, but I don’t really understand why. We’re nowhere near an entrance.’

A little further on, at the Boteringestraat, student Keno Nitsche pointedly ignores the sign denoting the smoke-free zone. ‘I don’t really care, to be honest’, he shrugs. ‘I’m addicted, so I won’t be quitting anyway. As long as other people are smoking next to the door, why shouldn’t I?’

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