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Duke to ban all smoking on campus by 2020

The Duke University Chapel on Duke’s West Campus, as photographed in 2017, serves as a symbol of the university.

The Duke University Chapel on Duke’s West Campus, as photographed in 2017, serves as a symbol of the university.

Duke University will become a smoke-free campus beginning in 2020. 

The university will implement the policy over two years to allow time for students and members of the community to seek treatment to stop smoking, a statement from Duke’s President Vincent Price said.

Kushal Kadakia, Duke’s student body vice president, said this policy is not a new idea. Over his three years in Duke student government, the idea has been proposed and shut down every year due to lack of support. 

Duke started an initiative called Healthy Duke in April 2017 that aims to promote wellness and health across the Duke community. Kadakia said he thought Healthy Duke might provide an opportunity to make headway on making campus smoke free.  

“I thought this was a great way for Duke to catch up with other universities that are smoke-free across the United States,” he said.

Kadakia said the program would expand access to treatment and support services for all members of the Duke community. 

“The policy isn’t just for students,” he said. “It’s for all members of the community, and so employees will also be able to get expanded treatment options through this program.”

James Davis, the director of the Duke Smoking Cessation Program, said the information that is now available about the harmful effects of smoking is a compelling reason to make campus smoke free.

“The primary motivation for making Duke smoke free is to improve the health of everyone in the Duke community,” he said. “To stand for something that is forward thinking and positive and important.” 

Davis said perimeter policies, the policies some universities have in place that ban smoking within a certain number of feet from buildings, help reduce fire hazards and the amount of secondhand smoke inhalation. He said, however, perimeter policies do not change the number of smokers on campus, and Duke chose to implement a comprehensive smoking ban instead of a perimeter policy to focus on improving the health of the Duke community. 

UNC prohibits smoking inside university buildings and facilities. In 2008, smoking was banned within 100 feet of all university facilities, both on and off campus, according to the UNC Department of Environment, Health and Safety website.

“This policy will affect employees, students, visitors and patients of the University community,” the website said. “UNC supports this expanded dimension of the no-smoking policy because of its tremendous health benefits for the entire University community.”

Davis said a Duke study found just under two percent of incoming Duke students were regular smokers. After those students had lived on campus, 11.4 percent were smokers.

“This is dramatic increase, and what we found was students were learning to smoke and becoming regular smokers while they were here at Duke,” he said. “One of the biggest impacts I think this policy is going to have is it’s going to decrease the uptake of smoking that occurs while students are at Duke.”

Kadakia said as Duke makes a commitment to campus-wide wellness through the Healthy Duke initiative, going smoke free is another part of that commitment. 

“It’s a shame to not go smoke free and not to act on all the research and all the facts that we have,” he said. “Universities, as producers of knowledge, also have the responsibility to act on that knowledge.”


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