Utrecht University wishes to offer its students and employees a safe and healthy environment. That is why it will make its terrains smoke-free in phases, with the exception of a number of designated smoking spots. In pilots the university will test what works and what does not. For university buildings bordering on municipal territory, the rule is that you can smoke when standing at least seven meters away from the building. The university wishes to protect non-smokers against smoke nuisance and passive smoking more than it does now. The UU also wishes to make an end to the annoyance of cigarette butts, which many people find a nuisance. Of course, the choice to smoke remains the students’ and employees’ own responsibility. The university only identifies specific places where you may smoke. The UU is exploring in which ways it can support students and employees if they want to quit smoking.
With its smoke-free premises, the university will join the social support for smoke-free initiatives. For example, the social initiative Smoke-free generation, which is getting more and more support from companies, schools and sports clubs that are becoming smoke-free. Primary schools, secondary schools and VET schools are obliged to make their premises smoke-free before 1 August 2020. At the moment it is not clear how this obligation will also apply to colleges of higher vocational education and universities. The university is already anticipating on this. In addition, the government recently concluded a so-called prevention agreement with agreements between more than seventy organisations. In the field of smoking, the goal is to make a smoke-free generation in 2040.
In stages, the university will make its premises smoke-free, with the exception of a number of designated smoking areas. The first step is to start pilots on the Leuvenplein at the Administration building and the Ruppert building and on the site of the University Library in the city centre. The UU will collect input from smokers and non-smokers during the implementation of these pilots, for example about the location of a smoking facility and which characteristics such a facility should have.
In the near future, the university will consult with organisations that have already made their premises smoke-free, such as Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and UMC Utrecht, and also with faculties that are already experimenting with a tightened smoking policy like the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. What can the university learn from these organisations? What does and does not work? The university will also consult with the municipality, other organisations at the Utrecht Science Park and local residents. In addition, expertise from Trimbos Institute and the university’s own researchers in the field of behavioural change will be used.
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