UCD could go 'smoke-free' after ban on cigarette sales
Published 30/08/2014 | 02:30
The country's largest university is banning the sale of cigarettes and tobacco from Monday, in a step towards becoming a smoke-free campus.
A recent survey showed that about one in four Irish students smoke, but if they are among the 30,000, full and part-time students attending University College, Dublin, they will have to stock up before arriving on campus.
The ban on sales in the university's three students' union outlets and a convenience store franchise also extends to electronic cigarettes.
UCD is showing a lead among Irish universities in deterring, and perhaps ultimately banning, smoking on campus in a move that is in line with international trends.
While several areas of the Belfield campus have already being designated as smoke free, college authorities are considering extending the ban across the entire 320 acres.
Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is also weighing up a smoking ban, although the idea has not received the same support from students as it did in UCD.
Smoking bans have been the subject of much debate, among both staff and students, in the country's two biggest universities for more than a year.
UCD's Health Promotion Committee suggested a campus-wide ban after receiving a presentation from anti-smoking lobby group Ash.
Former UCD president Dr Hugh Brady strongly supported a ban, and a referendum by UCD Students Unions (UCDSU) last September resulted in a 55pc-45pc vote in favour.
A UCD spokesperson said: "As a first step towards achieving a smoke-free campus, from next Monday, UCD is banning the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products."
UCDSU president Feargal Hynes said: "We respect the mandate that the students gave us on the back of the referendum last year.
"Therefore we will support the forthcoming measures introduced by the university."
Meanwhile in Trinity College, students' union leaders supported making their city centre campus tobacco-free, but their views were not shared by all the wider student body.
In a referendum last year, Trinity students voted by a slim majority against a ban, with 53pc saying "no".
TCD authorities are continuing their deliberations on the question of a ban, and the sale of cigarettes on campus, and a proposal is expected to be presented to the board in the autumn.
"There won't be a decision around it before Christmas. So for the present time, we are not a tobacco-free campus and the sale of cigarettes are ongoing by the shop on campus", a college spokesperson said.
When the issue first came up for discussion at Trinity last year, a number of obstacles to imposing a ban on a city-centre campus were identified by board members.
Because of its location, with its main gates opening on to busy thoroughfares, forcing smokers out of the college grounds could lead to large numbers of people congregating at entrances/exits, causing a nuisance.
Trinity board members also cautioned that trying to monitor a campus-wide ban could be difficult.
Meanwhile, Maynooth University, Co Kildare, which already bans smoking in campus buildings and on-campus accommodation - but not out of doors on its extensive campus - is in the process of updating its rules to include electronic cigarettes.
The recently-published Eurostudent V survey, carried out in 2013, found that 25pc of Irish third-level students smoked, 11pc on a regular basis.