Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stamping Out Smoking — Even Outdoors

Inside Higher Education - September 25, 2008 - David Moltz

Despite its seemingly deliberate name
, the recently enacted Pennsylvania Clear Indoor Air Act now bans outdoor smoking on the 14 campuses of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

The Clear Indoor Air Act, passed this summer and effective as of September 11, defines the public places in which the smoking ban applies as “an enclosed area which serves as a workplace, commercial establishment or an area where the public is invited or permitted.” The day before the state law took effect, the state system informed its almost 110,000 students and 12,000 employees via e-mail that — under its generous interpretation of the law — smoking would be banned absolutely everywhere on the state-owned campuses, including courtyards, parking lots and athletic fields.

Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor of the state system, said system officials believe the law applies to outdoor areas because of its stipulation that “public places” include “educational facilities.” It is more comprehensive, he said, to ban smoking at all places on campus than to determine specific places where, and circumstances under which, it should be allowed.

The law charges the state Department of Health with enforcement. Garland said, however, that the exact details of how the ban should be enforced on the system’s 14 campuses were still being determined. Although the law outlines multiple fines for violations — from $250 for a first offense to $1,000 for a third offense within a year — he said the primary focus of current enforcement was to educate the public about the ban and provide information about smoking cessation programs. Levying fines, he said, should neither be the first response to a violation nor the focus of enforcement at this early stage.

For the rest of the article by Inside Higher Education, September 25 - click here.