Newcastle Uni's tougher no-smoking rules: poll

THE University of Newcastle is set to become ‘‘smoke free’’, with plans to make it the first regional campus in the state to introduce tough new anti-smoking rules.

From July the university plans to ban smoking across its campuses, part of a broader ‘‘Healthy UoN’’ program.

While a small number of as-yet undefined ‘‘designated smoking areas’’ will be introduced, the majority of the university, including the 346-acre Callaghan campus, will no longer permit tobacco.

The Healthy UoN program aims to ‘‘enhance the physical, social and psychological health and wellbeing of the university community’’. 

The program’s chair, Dr Stephanie Brookman, is a general practitioner and the university’s deputy academic registrar for health and well being, she said the policy was bringing the university into line with already-held attitudes towards smoking.

‘‘From a medical point of view we all know it [smoking] is very unhealthy, an now people who don’t smoke are becoming increasingly aware of the health risk that other people smoking poses to them,’’ she said.

‘‘So this is more of a community shift, and it’s about keeping with that.’’

However while the policy mirrors those already held by a number of metro universities, including the University of Sydney and the University of NSW, other regional campuses like Charles Sturt and the University of Wollongong employ looser ‘‘smoke-free zones’’, meaning the policy will make Newcastle one of the toughest enforcers of anti-smoking policies in the state.

Chairperson of the Healthy University Steering Committee, Dr. Stephanie Brookman, with a no smoking sign at Callaghan campus. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Chairperson of the Healthy University Steering Committee, Dr. Stephanie Brookman, with a no smoking sign at Callaghan campus. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

But Dr Brookman said she was already hearing positive feedback from students.

‘‘Overwhelmingly [the reaction] has been very positive, a lot of students have said that it’s about time, or asked why it wasn’t done earlier.’’

University of Sydney: A few designated smoking areas across its campuses

University of NSW: Currently has designated smoking areas. From end of May will ban smoking on campus entirely

University of New England: Employs smoke free zones 

University of Wollongong: Employs smoke free zones

Charles Sturt University: Prohibits smoking in all buildings, areas adjacent to their entrances, exits and windows, car parks, walkways and enclosed spaces. However in January its Dean of students, Professor Julia Coyle, said the university was watching other universities with interest but had no plans to implement a ban

University of Western Sydney: On January 1 became the first NSW university to implement a full ban on smoking. Under the policy, staff, students and visitors who smoke on campus may be issued an infringement notice under the Smoke-Free Environment Act, which is currently $550