August 25, 2003

New ashtrays on the way for campus smokers

Eric Rangus

When Emory’s new smoking policy went into effect earlier this year, guidelines were drawn about where members of the University community could light up. With that policy in mind, Facilities Management (FM) will be working this fall to make smoking breaks a bit easier for everyone involved—smokers and nonsmokers alike.

A ban on smoking within 20 feet of all building entrances on both the Atlanta and Oxford campuses—including those of Emory Hospital, Emory Clinic and all residence halls—was enacted by the President’s Cabinet last spring.

The decision capped an effort that began in fall 2001 when the Employee Council proposed designating at least one smoke-free entrance to every building. According to a task force report on the subject, the intent was to “establish solutions to alleviate nonsmokers from having to enter a building by going through a cloud of secondhand smoke.”

The new policy, along with the DeKalb County Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, which took effect in February and banned smoking from all indoor public places (as many of Emory’s buildings are), has made finding a place to smoke a bit more difficult on campus.

Despite the restrictions, everybody has a right to smoke, so FM is looking into ways to ease the burden on smokers and increase their comfort while still ensuring smoke-free air for the nonsmokers.

“The intent is not to create smoking areas per se,” said Jimmy Powell, superintendent of roads and grounds. “We know where the needs are: near the Dobbs Center, the back of the hospital, the library, the business school, the Schwartz Center after a performance. We can cover 80 percent of the people with 20 percent of the area.”

Roads and grounds has ordered 25 covered ashtrays that will be distributed throughout campus in the fall. The unobtrusive containers are black metal posts with silver cylindrical receptacles at the top.

The new containers are bolted to the ground, and some areas (Jenkins Courtyard outside the business school and in the shadow of the Robert W. Woodruff statue outside the library) already have receptacles.

Powell, however, is realistic about whether the new receptacles will be used by all smokers to dispose of their butts. He said Facilities Management is looking into purchasing backpack vacuums so that roads and grounds personnel can suck up butts that have been thrown on the ground.

Signs designating smoke-free areas may be posted this fall as well. Some buildings, like Emory’s hospitals, already have signage restricting smoking on the premises. Emory Hospital, for example, leaves no doubt. The Asbury Circle entrance alone has nine no-smoking signs posted (one by the door, two on the railing outside the door and six on posts near the outside benches).