Staff works to enforce smoking restriction

University Libraries along with UVM faculty are attempting to clear the haze and enforce the University’s policy on smoking outside of library entrances with their Breathe Easy Bailey/Howe campaign, due to the significant amount of smoking that continues to take place outside of the library.

As a part of the campaign, faculty members stood outside Bailey/Howe and handed out information on why they think the smoking ban is important as well as offered sign-up sheets for students to show their support during the first week of school.

“In order to maintain a safe and healthful atmosphere and to remain in compliance with fire and safety regulations, UVM is a non-smoking institution,” according to the University’s official Smoking Policy Statement.

This policy mandates that smoking is permitted outdoors on University property in areas more than 25 feet away from building entrances, operable windows and air intakes.

“Because an overwhelming number of library patrons have asked us to do something about the second-hand smoke at the entrance, we decided to launch Breathe Easy Bailey/Howe,” Bailey/Howe program specialist Nancy Bercaw said. 

The goals of the campaign are to clearly identify non-smoking areas outside Bailey/Howe, ensure a clean-air entrance for all, especially those with respiratory issues, and raise awareness about health and environmental implications of second-hand smoke and cigarette butts, she said. 

“Bailey/Howe Library hasn’t changed its policy,” Bercaw said. “We’re simply attempting to bring public awareness to the existing UVM policy.”

While the blue spray-paint and thick chalk lines are a clear reminder to students that the library is not an entrance where smoking tobacco will be tolerated, some members in the community are questioning how the smoking policy will be enforced, and if the blue zone can resist Vermont’s often inclement weather. 

“So far, library officials tell us the first day was successful,” UVM’s anonymous student-led blog “A Little Bird Told Me” posted Aug. 27. “Will it last once downpours, blizzards and midterms start? We doubt it.”

Currently, library officials say offenders of the smoking policy will not be ticketed, but will instead be asked to move outside the prohibited zone. 

The library is not asking students not to smoke, but is instead encouraging them to do it at a safe distance from the door, Student Government Association (SGA) president Connor Daley clarified.  

Daley said he has witnessed a positive response from students on the Breathe Easy Bailey/Howe campaign. 

“I’ve heard from many students, especially fellow student leaders, who love the initiative,” he said. 

Sophomore Catriona Whalley thinks UVM Libraries will have a hard time enforcing the existing policy.

“This is something students have been doing for a long time,” she said. “I think students that have sat out there to smoke between classes will continue to do so.”

The Breathe Easy campaign is the most recent development in a University-wide initiative to curb smoking on campus. Last March, President Tom Sullivan created a steering committee to implement a smoking ban on certain areas of campus that would take “two to three years” to implement, the Cynic reported last year. 

In 2012, the University Benefits Advisory Committee (UBAC) suggested that UVM become a smoke-free campus in its report, a previous Cynic article stated. Since then, UBAC said it has budgeted about $45,000 to for the project over three years.