George Mason University officials are seeking to enhance enforcement of the university-wide smoking ban within 25 feet of campus buildings.

This policy is now being enforced more strictly because of a general societal attitude against smoking.

“Smoking is deemed to be unhealthy and a safety hazard,” said Dan Walsch, Mason’s press secretary.

by Stephen Kline

Students acknowledge the policy and its fairness.

“It is a little inconvenient, but I understand why the rules are in place,” said government and international politics major Mehryar Khan, 24. “I know smoking harms me [and] also harms other people.”

Khan claims that the enhanced enforcement of the smoking ban has not affected him so far.

Students also note the difficulty of smoking at least 25 feet away from buildings.

Non-smokers appreciate the policy’s improved enforcement.

“It is nice to walk out of a building and not get a face full of smoke,” said biology major Caitlin Taylor, 21. “The friends I have who do smoke are conscientious about it and respectful to others.”

Increasing policy enforcement is currently a work in progress.

“We are in the process of reviewing requests from Student Government to put additional no-smoking signage around the Johnson Center,” said Todd Rose, associate dean of University Life. “Due to changes in personnel, we need to revisit this issue.”

It is difficult to know for sure whether added enforcement will have significant financial costs.

“Money for signs is a marginal cost,” Rose said.

Ideally, the Mason community as a whole will enforce the policy.

“We hope everyone will take responsibility for enforcing it,” Rose said.  “People don’t necessarily do that well.”

“In this sense, motivating people to comply with the policy can be a challenge. While seemingly easy, enforcing the smoking policy is difficult,” Rose said.

The degree of enforcement can also depend upon whether individuals complain to authorities.

“Smokers are usually … but enforcement depends on how much resistance escalates,” Walsch said. “There has never been an issue where enforcement has been taken to an extreme.”

Although Walsch acknowledges that the increased enforcement has discouraged smoking within 25 feet of campus buildings, statistics cannot be cited.

Other state-affiliated universities in Virginia have similar smoking bans.

“As a public institution funded in part by public money, Mason is part of Virginia’s policy on smoking,” Walsch said.

Mason’s smoking policy was enacted in June 2004 to ensure compliance with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act.