Letter: ​UNC should ban smoking on campus


Smoking on UNC’s campus is increasing. Smokers are students, staff, faculty, contractors and visitors. While UNC’s administration purports to take public smoking seriously, it is disinclined to take definitive action against smoking in public.

 In 2008 UNC adopted a Smoke-Free Campus policy. Notably, UNC does not appear on Tobacco Free Campus Initiative’s list among participating North Carolina colleges and universities. 

 That is because UNC’s legalistic versus a public health and educational approach to smoking is a disqualification. And while the current policy addresses many specifics, it contains loopholes: smoking is permitted 100 feet from “a facility.”

 Though the 2008 policy does not explicitly say so, a UNC facility equals a building, though smoking is also explicitly prohibited in Kenan Woods where no buildings exist. UNC’s Facilities Services Department, however, maintains building and non-building “facilities” alike.

 This interpretation of facility explains why the Polk Place flag pole circle is UNC’s most visible “Free to Smoke Zone.” The pole is presumably 100 feet from any surrounding “facilities”: South Building and Gerrard, Steele, Hanes and Carolina Halls.

 Sadly, UNC encourages smokers on central campus by maintaining two concrete standing ash trays in the flag pole circle. These also serve as trash receptacles. Visible to anyone traversing central campus, smokers and trash occupy center stage.

 As home to renowned Schools of Public Health and Medicine, UNC should be leading not lagging in the tobacco-free campus movement. Esse Quam Videri.

Prof. Vincent J. Kopp

Department of Anesthesiology

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