The Wageningen campus is now smoke-free. As of yesterday (Wednesday 1 July), smoking is banned just about everywhere on the campus.
With this new rule, WUR is implementing the national policy that obliges educational institutions to make their campuses smoke-free by 1 August. For a moment this week, the WUR Council threatened to throw a spanner in the works. The Council wanted a smoking area to be created somewhere after all. But no such facility is going to be created, says Facilities and Services director Peter Booman. ‘It’s not possible, anyway,’ he says. ‘The Executive Board can’t go along with that. There is an executive order and we have got to obey it. But of course it is not unthinkable that there will be smoking areas just off-campus.’ Whether and where such areas would be is not clear at the moment. Signs at all the entrances to the campus will alert visitors to the fact that it is smoke-free.
The question is, where are the boundaries of the smoke-free zone? All grounds managed by WUR will be smoke-free. The municipality has agreed that the section of the Bornsesteeg that cuts through the campus is included. The big companies Friesland Campina (if its works council agrees) and Unilever are joining in too. As are Plus Ultra I and II, if their tenants’ committee ratifies the decision in September.
What is to happen at Campus Plaza has not yet been decided. Property developer Ten Brinke points out that it may be in the interests of catering outlets to allow smoking on Campus Plaza. But Booman points out the adverse consequences of creating a ‘smokers’ paradise’. ‘There are a lot of people who really don’t like sitting in a cloud of smoke. That is our starting point in discussions about this.’
There are very few smokers on campus. According to figures from the Trimbos Institute, 15 per cent of the staff at Dutch universities smoke. Booman thinks the percentage at Wageningen, with its focus on health and sustainability, is lower than that. Basing calculations on 15 per cent, it would mean that 855 smokers on the campus would have to change their behaviour.
One way of doing that would be to stop smoking. WUR is going to encourage that by organizing meetings to set up a stop-smoking programme for groups to follow together. An enforcement policy is also being drawn up by a group led by the Smoke-free Campus project leader Claire van Gemert. An employee from the security company Schippers will patrol the campus to point out the new policy to any smokers. And a team of students will do the same among students at the start of the academic year.
Enforcement of the smoking ban will be gentle, says Booman. ‘We are going to approach people on a positive note.’ The main focus will be on explaining the reasons for the total ban. ‘And if people persist in smoking, the next step will be a meeting with their manager. So we will really be enforcing it.’ The existing smoking areas on the campus will be repurposed as facilities for group work by students and staff.