The first policy change in plans to make UCD a smoke-free campus are in force from today. The initiative, which was passed in a referendum held last October, will see five outlets on campus (the three Student Union shops, the UCD Clubhouse and the Centra at Merville residences) prohibited from selling cigarettes. The move is being welcomed by some on campus but with concern by others.
In 2004, the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts, which saw the illegalisation of smoking indoors in public places, were also met with apprehension. However, with cigarette sales down 60% nationwide and a reported 7,000 people who have now given up smoking since the ban, attempts to make UCD smoke-free are being hailed as a positive step in the same direction.
An employee of the Library Student Union shop believes it will make a “great difference” and says that she is “most likely in favour of it” but does accept that students will find a way to smoke regardless. She does however see it as a way of “ruling something out.”
Feargal Hynes, President of UCD Student Union, confirmed there is an anti-smoking taskforce set up by a governing board in UCD and that the plan is to phase out smoking across campus with the sales prohibition being the first step. Hynes has said that the SU Board are seeking to avoid a situation that would see the plan fall through as it has before with anti-smoking areas on campus.
When asked about the possibility of designated smoking areas, Hynes said that no position would be taken until the Union’s first Council meeting.
Many have raised the question of a black market rolling out across campus as a result of the ban, with concerns of students buying in bulk and selling on campus or an exodus of students to locations off-campus to buy cigarettes.
Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding a possible campaign against the new regulations. Students have claimed it as an infringement of their freedom of choice, and also criticised UCDSU for holding the referendum on the same day as the preferendum on the SU’s stance on abortion, claiming that the move meant that the Smoke-Free Campus referendum was not given sufficient coverage or discussion.