As GW enacts smoking ban Thursday, few details are released

The campus-wide smoking ban will go into effect Thursday, though administrators have said little about how GW will enforce the policy among students, faculty and staff.

Smoking will be prohibited within 25 feet of campus buildings and in public spaces such as Kogan Plaza and University Yard. According to planning documents obtained by The Hatchet last year, students who violate the policy will be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, with staff and faculty directed to Human Resources.

Students protested the smoking ban in Kogan Plaza last fall. The policy will officially go into effect Thursday. Hatchet File Photo.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said Wednesday that the University would not announce specifics until the policy is officially put in place Thursday.

The policy was approved in February 2012 by a student-wide vote. More than 66 percent of voters backed the smoking ban, with about 3,000 students weighing in. When they announced the ban, officials said they would then begin to outline a strategy to enforce the smoke-free policy,

Last fall, dozens of students and some faculty protested the ban by lighting up in Kogan Plaza.

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said earlier this year that the policy was meant to create a “culture change” over several years. He also said students who wanted to stop smoking could take advantage of a 24-hour quitting hotline and a group therapy class at the University Counseling Center.

Administrators also pitched the policy to freshmen at Colonial Inauguration this summer. The University has also touted the financial benefits – saving a potential $3.5 million in faculty healthcare costs.

GW will be one of the nearly 1,200 universities nationwide to ban smoking on campus, according to No-Smoke.org. Nearby universities – Catholic, Gallaudet, Georgetown, Marymount and Trinity Washington – all ban smoking within 25 feet of building entrances, and the University of Maryland went smoke-free this summer.

But critics of the policy question how GW can enforce the policy among the hundreds of pedestrians who walk through campus each day.

Americans increasingly support outdoor smoking bans, according to a Gallup poll released this week. Fifty-five percent of people believe smoking should be banned in public places, up from 31 percent who supported the ban a decade ago

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