The University of Limerick (UL) has announced that smoking and vaping will be banned on all campus locations from Friday, June 1st. The ban covers electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, and electronic pipes, and any other delivery systems intended to simulate smoking, irrespective of whether they contain nicotine or not.
Alongside the main campus, the ban will apply any locations owned, leased, or operated by the University, including campus bar The Stables Club, Park Point, and the UL Activity Centre. The Health Hub in Limerick City, which was developed by UL and provides community-based groups access to health programmes, is also subject to the ban. Smoking and vaping will not be permitted at off-campus student accommodation owned by the university.
The Smoke and Vape Free Campus Policy primarily intends to “improve the health, safety and welfare of staff, students, contractors and visitors.” The policy will apply to any persons who enter the university grounds and facilities for any reason. Under the new policy, staff and students are expected “to contribute to the enforcement of this policy by reminding anyone they see in breach of the policy to desist and to comply.”
Ashtrays will be removed from bins and permanent signage advising of the new policy will be installed. The UL Student Health Centre will provide supports to students who wish to cease smoking or vaping, while the UL Human Resources department will refer UL staff to HSE smoking cessation programmes.
In a statement to Trinity News, the UL students’ union called it a “very positive move for the University going forward” which will “help UL become a much healthier environment for students, staff, and visitors.”
UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald, who previously led a coronary care facility in the United States and is a former smoker, tweeted that he knows “how addictive nicotine is and how tough it is to stop smoking.” Fitzgerald expressed hope that “UL going smoke/vape free will help those who want to quit smoking and also help prevent incoming students from taking up the habit.”
In 2017, UL designated smoke-free areas on campus in an effort to move towards becoming a smoke-free zone. Trinity has prohibited smoking inside and outside in three campus zones since June 2016, with a reported 81% reduction in smoking in these areas. At the last Student Council of the Trinity Students’ Union of 2018, a discussion item regarding the potential designation of cigarettes as single-use plastics received significant opposition from students in attendance.
National University of Galway (NUI Galway) and University College Dublin (UCD) also have tobacco free zones since January 2016 and September 2015 respectively. Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) and Westport College have already implemented smoke-free campus policies.
In 2015, AIT was the first third-level institution in Ireland to completely ban tobacco products and e-cigarettes from its campus following a survey which found 80% of the college community were non-smokers. Only 31% of respondents to the survey were opposed to adopting a tobacco-free status. AIT won a gold award from the Irish Heart Foundation for its achievements in promoting a health environment on campus.
UL first announced its intentions to become a smoke-free campus in September 2017 and was met with mixed response. Some students argued that “stress levels will sky rocket” as a result of the ban, while others praised the plan as a mechanism for improving health on campus. At the time, the UL students’ union said it had “little control over the rollout of the initiative.”
The ban will come into effect on Friday, June 1st.