Following contention among students, Tobacco Free Trinity will recommend expanding smoke free zones at a meeting of the College Board next week, with a proposal to run further education campaigns across campus.
The committee’s latest report, seen by The University Times, also recommends encouraging visitors to stop smoking and increased monitoring of the levels of smoking around the 1937 Reading Room.
Tobacco-free Trinity will seek the support of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) at next week’s board meeting, but it is unclear what stance the unions will take on the proposal.
TCDSU’s stance on creating a smoke-free campus has long been a contentious issue. For a period of time, the union actively opposed the tobacco-free Trinity initiative, after a referendum in 2014 in which 53 per cent of voters decided against supporting a smoke-free campus. However, the union changed its mandate in 2015 to support the introduction of smoke-free zones in “identified problem areas on campus”.
Last year, students voted to remove the union’s mandate at a meeting of TCDSU’s council, meaning that the union currently has no official stance on the initiative.
It is equally unclear how the GSU will respond to the proposal. After rejecting initial proposals for a smoke-free campus in 2014, the union has no mandate on the issue. Debates on smoke-free zones at the union’s meetings of council this year were contentious. The GSU has a memorandum of understanding with TCDSU whereby the GSU will take on the stance of TCDSU when it is not mandated on the issue.
Spearheaded by Tobacco Free Trinity, the initiative to implement smoke-free areas on campus has seen three areas designated as smoke-free zones since July 2016. Currently the College Health Centre, the Sports Centre and the entrance to the Arts Block are considered smoke-free zones on campus.
Since the introduction of these smoke-free zones, smoking on campus has decreased by an average of 83 per cent, according to the report. This is a two-per-cent increase on the findings of last year’s report, which observed an 81 per cent decline in smoking levels between 2016 and 2017.
Once again, Fellows’ Square outside the Arts Block had the highest percentage of smokers, but this is on the decline. There was a marked decrease in smoking outside the Arts Block during the second term, which the report linked to the committee’s public information campaign, which ran between January and March 2018.
There were more visitors smoking in Fellows’ Square in summer 2017 than 2016, with the report concluding that more needs to be done to discourage visitors to campus from smoking.
The report also found that there was a 100 per cent compliance rate when smokers were asked to move or stop smoking by the specially trained smoke-free ambassadors.
Trinity is not the only Irish university that has adopted policies to reduce the levels of smoking on campus. In 2016, National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) introduced two smoke-free zones on campus and last year the University of Limerick (UL) announced plans to introduce similar smoke-free zones.