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Student Update: The launch of QMUL’s new smoking policy

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Dear Student,

As an institution, QMUL recognises the harmful impact of smoking on individuals, families, health services and society. Much of our research, teaching and public engagement work seeks to eradicate smoking and help those suffering from the effects of smoking.

For the past few years, staff, students and visitors have been increasingly seen to be smoking on campus, and it’s become unclear for many of us what our policy is, and why a smoke-free environment is not enforced.

The Health and Safety team ran a series of consultations in 2014-15 to find out what people thought. Hundreds of people shared their views and many explained that they want QMUL to provide secure places on Mile End campus for smokers. We have listened to this feedback and developed a new smoking policy that aims to protect people from the harmful effects of passive smoking, provide support for smokers to quit, and provide areas on Mile End campus for people to smoke. Our other campuses remain smoke-free. A summary of the key findings from the consultation is on our Health and Safety website.

Please familiarise yourself with the information below, which includes enforcement and reporting guidance. The full policy and supporting documents, publicity materials and contact details can be found here: hsd.qmul.ac.uk/A-Z/Smoking%20Policy.

Best wishes,

Emma Bull
Interim Chief Operating Officer
Queen Mary University of London

A summary of the new policy

UK law requires all of our vehicles, buildings and areas up to 50 per cent enclosed, to be smoke-free.

Mile End campus
On Mile End campus, there are now four small areas where smoking outside is allowed. Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside, or anywhere outside of the four designated areas: hsd.qmul.ac.uk/Documents/standards%20and%20guidance/170390.pdf.  

Smoke-free campuses and vehicles
Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square and Lincoln Inn Fields campuses are smoke-free. All QMUL owned or leased vehicles are smoke-free. Smoking is not allowed anywhere in our vehicles, in buildings or on campus, including the picnic area and surrounding road at Charterhouse Square, and the space between the Blizard and Centre of the Cell at Whitechapel. Because public open spaces such as pavements and public squares are so close to some of our buildings, we ask that smokers stand away from open windows, doorways and main entrances, and are considerate of members of our communities by not smoking where people are resting or eating.

Vaping or e-cigarettes
Vaping is not allowed anywhere inside, and this includes QMUL-owned or leased vehicles. The use of e-cigarettes is allowed outside on our campuses. We ask people to be considerate of other members of our community by not vaping near open windows, doorways or where people are resting and eating.

Enforcement of the policy and the law
Anyone found smoking inside or in partially enclosed areas with up to 50 per cent enclosure may be fined and prosecuted according to UK law.

Anyone found smoking on campus outside of the designated areas, or on Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square and Lincoln Inn Fields campuses may be disciplined according to the staff disciplinary policy for staff, and the student disciplinary policy for students. Documents are available at www.arcs.qmul.ac.uk/policy.

Anyone found vaping inside or in partially enclosed areas with up to 50 per cent enclosure may be disciplined according to the staff disciplinary policy for staff, and the student disciplinary policy for students.

If you have a placement, or you work at or make visits to non-QMUL places, it is your responsibility to make yourself aware of your host’s smoking and e-cigarettes policy and to follow it. For example, Barts Health NHS Trust is completely smoke and e-cigarette-free.

What can I do?

Further information about all of these points is here: hsd.qmul.ac.uk/A-Z/Smoking%20Policy.

• Ensure you are aware of the policy and where to find it, and that you follow it.
• Include information about the smoking policy in any staff and student induction and information provided to visitors.
• Politely inform people you see smoking in unauthorised areas of the rules. You can download the summary flyers and posters on the web.
• If you wish to report an incident, or highlight an area where you see regular flouting of the policy, please contact the QMUL Security team.
• If you smoke, or you care about someone who does, consider whether the support to quit might help and ensure you know how to access them.

Development of our new policy and consultation with staff and students

For the past few years, staff, students and visitors have been increasingly seen to be smoking on campus, and it’s become unclear for many of us what our policy is, and why a smoke-free environment is not enforced. The Health and Safety team ran a series of consultations in 2014-15, to find out what people thought. Key findings include:

• The majority of respondents from the staff and student body told us that they support smoke-free campuses, but that there were concerns over the safety of people being asked to smoke off campus at Mile End, particularly at night. Safety for people smoking off campus wasn’t raised as a problem for our other campuses because the campuses or buildings are close to public spaces where smoking is permitted.
• Respondents fed back that guidance wasn’t clear enough on our policy, which made it difficult to enforce. Because people living on campus or using the Library late at night argued that it wasn’t safe to go off campus to smoke, this then meant that more people thought it was ok to smoke on campus, and started to do it in the daytime too. People from outside the UK also fed back that they are not used to smoke-free environments and needed clearer, upfront communications about the rules when they first arrive.
• People thought that Security staff should enforce the policy, but many also thought that we all had a responsibility to advise those found smoking outside of the designated areas, and that clearer signage should be displayed on campus.
• Any smoking areas should be away from windows, doorways, eating areas, rest areas and busy walkways. But this should be balanced with being clearly visible and accessible, to ensure they remain safe places to be.
• A concern was raised about the negative implications on funding for cancer research if we didn’t have a smoke-free policy.
• The use of e-cigarettes was discussed in detail, with some arguing that they should be viewed as a quitting aid, and some citing how anti-social they can be, or the lack of independent research into whether they are safe.

A summary of the key findings from the consultation is on the Health and Safety website:  hsd.qmul.ac.uk/A-Z/Smoking%20Policy.

Campaign and communication

QMUL is launching a year-long quit smoking service in close collaboration with The Smokers Cessation Clinic and the Student Health Service in order to encourage and support people to quit smoking. The impact will be assessed at the end of the year and further activity will be planned.

New guidance is available on the Health and Safety website for all staff and students about support to quit smoking, the new smoking policy, how it will be enforced and how to make a report or raise a concern.

The Health and Safety, Security and Communication teams have developed new guidance, signage, information posters, handouts and web pages to advise people on campus of the policy and what it means for them. We are also providing training and guidance materials for line managers, new starters and students and staff who work out and about on campus or in areas where smoking is common in order to help them provide up to date advice and guidance, and know the reporting procedures.

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