Walking across the LaTrobe University campus is a health hazard – particularly in the central Agora area* – because smokers inflict damaging consequences of their nicotine addiction habit on non-smokers by breathing cigarette smoke over them. It is not being prissy or faking an excessive concern – the US Surgeon General showed that no level of exposure to cigarette smoke is safe. There is no critical minimum level of exposure with which health damages cease. The University administration have a duty of care to staff and students – i do not know if they could be made legally liable for diseases that could be attributed to such secondary smoke. My suggestion is to ban all cigarette smoking in any area of the university where there are non-smokers. That will almost end up almost amounting to a total ban on the campus although I guess a reasonable practical compromise would be to allow smokers to destroy their own health in the middle of an unoccupied sports oval. This program of severe restrictions is in place at the University of Sydney. If the smoke impinges on the breaking space of non-smokers it is imposing an unwarranted heath hazard and should be outlawed.
The policy is increasingly employed on US college campuses. It should be universal and prevent people in any occupation or walk-of-life from having to experience secondary tobacco smoke.
Such policies also increase the inconvenience ‘user costs’ of smoking helping to save the health and the lives of those who smoke. It also helps to discourage smoking initiation by expressing strong social disapproval of the activity as well as by imposing extra user costs.
* To the extent such smoking occurs within 2 metres of the entrance to buildings around Agora – it often does – it is prohibited under existing OHS legislation. The university seems to turn a blind eye to such smoking. (1027)