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Should Monash Go Smoke-Free?

Monash has always taken its commitment to clean air spaces very seriously. In 2006, Monash reacted to the Tobacco (Amendment) Act 2005 and announced that it would prohibit smoking in all buildings, entrances, and regulated smoking in the workplace. As of last year, Monash has started to consider going further – going entirely smoke free.

This move is not entirely distinctive. Campuses in New South Wales and Western Australia have adopted anti-smoking policies on university grounds due to numerous factors. In 2013, some Victorian universities also made progress in becoming smoke-free. The university instigated consultation early last year and began discussions about a transition period, which would initially see designated smoker zones created on campus. Other universities have gone smoke-free, using designated zones as a part of their transition. Unlike other Universities though Monash has discussed deliberately making these zones unappealing, by leaving them unsheltered and aesthetically unattractive and by placing them in decentralised spaces.

However, Monash has signalled its end goal is having a completely smoke-free campus –meaning the removal of all proposed smoker zones within a short time period. This would also extend to the on-campus accommodation where around 2000 students live.

The Monash Student Association conducted a poll on the issue and around two-thirds of students favoured a move towards less-smoking on campus.

The current position of the MSA is to support restrictions on smoking in certain areas on campus, provided that there are safe and visible smoking zones, which would not increase the risk or create unsafe spaces on campus for students, particularly studying at night. The MSA has also expressed concerns over the proposed smoker zones being far away, and not being properly lit and sheltered. For instance, Monash has now increased the Matheson’s operating hours in exams – would students leave the library entrance at 2am or simply ignore the smoking policy?

Monash will also be looking into the potential to restrict, or potentially remove tobacco sales at all outlets on campus, to also complement the smoke-free plan. This would mean students and staff would have to go off-campus to purchase cigarettes, and potentially be more inclined to smoked away from campus.

The disciplinary process for this plan is somewhat optimistic, with the University hoping a peer culture of not smoking at University will occur, but security can be called for repetitive and continuous offenders.

Given how drastically the implementation of this policy will affect the lives of students at staff at Monash, it is of paramount importance that the stance of the MSA on this issue comes loud and clear from the student body. Do you think Monash should be entirely smoke free? Email msa-president@monash.edu to have your say, and what considerations do you think should be taken into account if Monash do decide to implement these plans?

Participate in the survey at: http://tinyurl.com/SmokeFreeMonash

Ben Knight

The author Ben Knight

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