After much debate surrounding smoking on the George Mason University campus last year, the Student Government Smoking Policy Task Force has come to a decision regarding this contentious issue.

“The ultimate conclusion was that most people agreed that a compromise was necessary and Mason should enforce the 25-foot rule,” said Chief of Staff Alex Williams, a former task force member.
“But after 25 feet, if a person wants to smoke, he or she may smoke.”

Last year, the Smoking Policy Task Force held two town hall-style meetings during which members of the Mason community were allowed to give their input. Students who showed up to the meetings were given an opportunity to speak with all three task force members present in order ensure that the varying views were represented.

Upon gathering all necessary information from the community, the task force issued its final report.
“The report concluded that there were a few fringe elements; a few of those who were completely hands-off, ‘let us do what we want,’ and a few on the other side who [wanted] to completely ban it across campus,” Williams said.

The task force’s conclusion was forwarded to SG and the Faculty Senate for approval. The task force stated that Mason should adopt the 25-foot rule, a state law that prohibits smoking within 25 feet of the entrance to any state building.

SG passed a resolution asking Mason to place signs all over campus, in front of the entrances to all buildings, to indicate that smoking is prohibited within 25 feet.

The university administration has begun the process of designing the signs, which must be approved by the campus architect prior to their placement.

In addition to signs, Facilities Management will move cigarette urns 25 feet from the entrance to each building to encourage compliance with state law.

The signs will also bring signage uniformity to campus. Currently, there are a few signs around campus that communicate different messages concerning how far away smokers should stand if they choose to smoke.

“The problems with the [current] signs are that there aren’t many signs and there is ambiguity, such as some saying 15 feet, 20 feet, and so on,” Williams said. “We want one common sign that says ‘25 feet’ around all the buildings.”

The Smoking Policy Task Force was composed of three members: former Commissioner Matthew Short, Mike Schaffer and Alex Williams.

Although the task force has closed, students are encouraged to share input or ask questions about action regarding the smoking policy.

“This is still an ongoing process, and what we don’t want to see is the assumption that we’ve had the discussion and therefore the issue finished,” Williams said.

Students may email Alex Williams at with their comments or concerns.