VCU goes tobacco free
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 7/12/2019, 6 a.m.
Public streets and sidewalks now are virtually the last refuge for smokers on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.
On July 1, VCU banned tobacco use of any kind — including e-cigarettes — from its grounds, buildings, dorms and vehicles.
The ban applies to campus visitors as well as to students, faculty and staff.
The only designated areas where smoking is allowed at VCU is in the rear of 700 W. Grace St. and behind the student wellness center at 815 S. Cathedral Place.
The university instituted the ban at the same time as a new state law barring anyone under 21 from purchasing or possessing tobacco products, except for active duty military personnel.
VCU banned tobacco products from its medical campus in 2010. The new policy extends that ban to the academic campus.
VCU officials said the university would post notices of the policy during the summer, create educational materials and expand smoking cessation programs for smokers associated with the university.
However, students, faculty and staff could face disciplinary action if they violate the ban. Students who are reported would be referred to the Office of Student Affairs, while staff and faculty could face repercussions if reported to the personnel office, officials said.
Campus police also could issue court summonses to student violators who are under 21. The new law governing tobacco purchases provides for a fine of $100 to $500 for individuals convicted of violating it.
Separately, state law provides for a $25 fine for those who ignore signs banning smoking in public spaces.
“VCU is committed to eliminating known health hazards and promoting healthy habits,” Thomas Briggs, VCU assistant vice president for safety and risk management, in promoting the new policy. “The smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy is a start.”
Meanwhile, a separate state law is expanding no-smoking restrictions in public schools in Richmond and across Virginia.
Students have long been banned from smoking on school property. Now the ban is being expanded to adults. The new law requires school boards to put in place policies to eliminate smoking from teachers’ lounges, school offices and school grounds.