Smokers who have nowhere to go, employees who regularly have to work in a smoky hall, neighbours who complain about cigarette butts in the street. Although the UG has been smoke-free for years, the ‘smoking problem’ is far from solved.
Last year, ashtrays were installed again at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. They’d previously been removed due to the ‘smoke-free university’ policy that was implemented in August 2020, but that did nothing to reduce the number of smokers.
‘It led to anger and misunderstanding from our neighbours about why smokers are barred from our grounds, since it resulted in their sidewalks being littered with cigarette butts,’ the faculty explains.
Smoke-free university or not, to resolve the dispute with the neighbours, the best solution turned out to be an old-fashioned one: give smokers a place to dispose of their butts.
The University Library (UB) is looking for a similar solution. ‘Yesterday, the people at the front desk spent more time outside than inside talking to students,’ says Greet Bulthuis-Beens of the UB’s service council. ‘The smoke was merrily wafting through the revolving door. But once you get rid of one student, the next one is already lighting up.’
UB front desk employees in particular have been working in the smoky air for years. That includes employees with asthma, who, according to the council, suffer greatly from the constant smoke.
‘Flags don’t work, lines don’t work, signs don’t work and using stewards to enforce the policy is too expensive,’ said council member Tiemen Folkers. ‘Please, provide a pragmatic solution for once. Do something!’
Why haven’t the smokers been given a designated spot with a shelter and ashtrays? ‘It’s been suggested for years,’ says Folkers. The new Röling building would provide space for it. But no one’s doing anything.’
The UG wants to discourage smokers, but students continue to smoke. So who is responsible for the cigarette butts, or the nuisance caused by the smoke?
According to UG spokesperson Elies Wempe-Kouwenhoven, this will be discussed Tuesday afternoon. ‘Then the facilities managers will have a meeting on how to deal with the issue. After that, we will know more.’