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UNC’s Department of Housing and Residential Education has decided to make all residence halls and apartments smoke-free beginning this summer.
The ban to outlaw smoking originally was proposed by the Residence Hall Association in the fall following a survey in October of students living on campus. The survey had a 33 percent response rate, and 68 percent of those respondents said they thought smoking should not be allowed in residence halls. It included opinions from both smokers and nonsmokers.
The ban includes outdoor breezeways. It also ends the current policy of leaving the decision to smoking students’ and their neighbors. In most residence halls, smoking has been permitted as long as roommates and suitemates don’t object.
“The primary driving force for this was based on students sharing their comments and opinions about smoking in the residence halls,” said Christopher Payne, director of housing and residential education. Payne said the department also approved the ban in an effort to enhance fire safety in the residence halls.
The ban proposal was slowed in the fall by the discovery of a state law, enacted in July, that says UNC System residence halls can only be designated as nonsmoking as long as alternate smoking rooms are provided.
Payne and RHA President-elect Colin Scott said they did not think the department would have trouble accommodating student demand for smoking housing options. “The law still exists, and we will comply with the law,” Payne said, adding that students who wish to smoke in their residence hall or apartment can file a request with the department to be allowed to do so.
“We will start out with all of our halls and apartments being smoke-free,” Payne said, adding that the department has designated the ground floors of Craige and Ehringhaus dorms as smoking areas if there is student demand for them, and he said more areas would be created if necessary.
Currently, all of the newest and most recently renovated dorms – the four newest dorms on South Campus along with Connor and Winston halls – are smoke-free. The second floor of Hinton James as well as Alexander and Joyner halls are substance-free, which means they also are nonsmoking.
Housing officials said the department would look for other places around the outside of dorms and apartments to create smoking areas for students. “We will work to accommodate smoking in outdoor natural areas,” Payne said. “Other than that, there’s nothing other than education and awareness for students and our staff that smoking is no longer permitted in residence halls and apartments.”