As of August 2020, people will have to walk quite a distance from their workplace or study area if they want to step outside for a moment to light up a cigarette. You will have to go beyond the traffic gate banners, or to the small park near the Kennedylaan, on the other side of the Dommel.
The exact legal regulations and the way in which they are to be interpreted remained unclear to the project group for a long time, says project leader Peter van de Burgt. “First, we were told that smoking was undesirable, and later it became clear that it would become as strict ban. The bottom line is that smoking is not allowed on terrains where education activities take place, where students are active, and where students have to be to take care of their affairs.”
In collaboration with business companies on campus, TU/e is going explore whether a smoking ban will apply to these areas as well. Van de Burgt explains: “It will no longer be allowed to smoke near the businesses on campus, including in the open air. We, as project members, are still looking into where that border will be drawn exactly. We talked to businesses on campus before and some of them take a positive view of a smoking ban, whereas others don’t. In principle, the smoking ban also applies to businesses on campus where students follow an internship.”
The smoking ban will also apply to the outdoor area near residential towers Luna and Aurora. TU/e is still talking to the housing corporations about their policy for smoking inside the towers – even though TU/e has no authority over that.
State Secretary for Health Paul Blokhuis recently provided clarity about the practical implementation of the smoking ban. On Friday, November the 22nd, the Council of Ministers agreed to send a general decree, the concept agreement smoke-free schoolgrounds, to the Senate and the House of Representatives. In response to this, the members of the project group and a jurist looked into the possible concrete effects of this decree for our university.
The project members did not sit idly by during the last few months and had prepared several scenarios for the implementation. The group also considered the issue of enforcement; the intention is that educational institutions will take this up themselves. The project leader; “We are investigating whether we can use the services of the terrain stewards, who are currently monitoring bicycle and car parking, for this.”
That monitoring will take place mostly during lecture hours. In principle, Netherlands food and consumer product safety authority (NVWA) officials will not look for violations of the smoking ban outside of these hours. Violations, incidentally, can result in a 4,500 euros fine for the university. “During events, we could possibly make the organizer responsible for monitoring,” Van de Burgt says.
TU/e will also talk to the municipality about enforcement, the project leader says. “When staff members and students go off campus to smoke, we need to consult with the municipality about whether that’s a cause of nuisance, and who is responsible in that case. Think of the bicycle paths on the edge of campus.”
The project leader did look at other universities to see how they handled this issue, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges, he believes. Van de Burgt: “We have quite a unique situation here with a campus ground on which businesses are located as well, and where people live.”
The smoking ban will be announced on campus. How and where that message will be brought to the attention of staff members and students is still being looked into. It has to be in Dutch in any event – that is required by law – but the announcement will also be in English, Van de Burgt expects. The university will help staff members and students at TU/e who want to kick their smoking habit by offering courses on how to quit smoking. There will be no smoking areas in or outside buildings. “We want to discourage smoking on campus as much as we can,” Van de Burgt says.
The project group still plans to present the action plan for the policy and implementation, including the exact zone, to the Governance Board Integral Safety (this unites the administrations of several departments), and it will also be sent to the University Council, whose members have right of consent for this issue. It is possible that the plan might be adapted in a number of respects.
All Dutch educational institutions must have a smoke-free campus as of August 1, 2020. The Senate and the House of Representatives will discuss the proposal during a so-called preliminary scrutiny procedure (‘voorhangprocedure’). Once the Senate and the House of Representatives agree to the proposal, the draft decree will go the Council of State, which will present the government with a final advice. After the advice is processed, the decree will become final. All documents, including the explanatory memorandum, can be found here.