Barry Murphy, UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) Acting President, has expressed doubt over the feasibility of UCD’s Smoke-Free Campus Policy. Murphy explained that ‘our view on it is that students should be allowed to smoke wherever they want to, as long as it’s away from certain entrances, [I] honestly don’t think the whole smoke-free campus thing is going to work, unless they’re going to be escorting students off of campus, and I don’t think they’re really going to do that. I can’t see it being enforced.’

The Policy states that ‘defined areas of its campuses are smoke-free and that smoking and vaping/e-smoking in all forms is prohibited in these areas.’ Phase One was implemented in September 2015. Smoke-free zones within 10 metres of all building entrances and in prescribed areas, which included the UCD James Joyce Library colonnades, the front of the O’Brien Centre for Science, the front of Newman building, the front of UCD Sutherland School for Law, and the front of UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business.

Smoke-free zones were then extended to the ‘core built-up areas’ of Belfield and Blackrock in September 2016, as part of Phase Two. Based on the map UCD drew up for this phase, smoking is banned around virtually every building on campus. Phase Three, introduced this September, extended the ban to include ‘the campus commuting hubs, carparks and pedestrian routes to and from commuting facilities.’

The Policy calls for community enforcement. Murphy said that ‘we don’t really understand what they mean by community enforcement. There has been no sign of Campus Services getting involved, and no sign of anyone like security getting involved.’ When the Tribune mentioned the voice recorder outside Newman that used to play a ‘no smoking’ message, Murphy replied, ‘I don’t know whether that’s gone by choice or just running out of battery.’

UCDSU is in ‘regular contact’ with Brian Mullins and Healthy UCD, who are championing the project. He explained how UCDSU are working with Healthy UCD on a number of issues, and noted that ‘our Welfare Officer Eoghan has lots of students coming into him. Some of those student cases would involve students who are trying their best to give up smoking.’ Murphy spoke about encouraging a ‘happy medium’ of promoting a healthy lifestyle, while also helping students to have fun.

From the staff perspective, UCD has been promoting six-week smoking cessation courses nearby in St. Vincent’s Hospital. One ran from the middle of September to the end of October. Another course began on the 6th of November. Ailsa from the Smoking Service at the Hospital told the Tribune that ‘we have certainly been receiving a lot of enquiries and sign-ups from UCD over the last few courses so it seems to be quite popular, I can’t for certain say if this has increased as it’s not information that we routinely record.’

Staff were also informed that the Procare Pharmacy in the Student Centre was offering a 30% discount on their nicotine replacement range until the 1st of December 2017. The staff Ezine stated the discount ‘covers Nicorette Patches, Gum and Quickmist as well as Niquitin Lozenges.’ Enda Phelan, a pharmacist at Procare Pharmacy in UCD, confirmed they were offering a ‘30% discount across our NRT range’ as part of their support for UCD’s Smoke-Free Campus policy.

Phelan told the Tribune that while he had not ‘looked at the recent sales figures yet’, he noted that ‘when we offered this discount last semester we saw a 67% increase in demand for NRT products, so hopefully it is helping students and staff in their efforts to quit smoking.’ When the Tribune mentioned this to Murphy, he said he was unaware of the Pharmacy’s offer, but would pass on the message to students.

Cian Carton – Editor