What is the problem?

Despite a Virginia law and university policy banning smoking within 25 feet or inside of campus buildings, smokers often clog the entranceway to the JC and other highly populated areas around campus.

Students with sensitivity toward smoke, ranging from annoyance to severe medical symptoms, are often forced to walk through packs of smokers. Smokers, under Virginia law, retain their right to smoke in designated public areas as a personal freedom.

What is the university smoking policy?

In accordance with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, university policy promotes a healthful and safe work environment for students, faculty and staff while still preserving the right to choose to smoke.

Smoking is only permitted in designated areas marked by signs. Hallways, classrooms, restrooms and all public areas are smoke-free.

Smoking is permitted outside of buildings not designated as hazardous.

The policy was last updated in 2004, but currently a student task force is working on updates.

Who enforces the policy?

Several administrators are responsible for the enforcement of the smoking policy, including the assistant vice president and chief human resources officer, the associate provost for personnel & budget, and the assistant vice president for university services. Duties include implementing and enforcing the policy in their areas of work and inform faculty, staff and students under their jurisdictions of the policy provisions.

“Enforcement has been the tough question. You can get fined for violating state policy — be it smoking too close to a building or littering with your cigarette butts,” said Alex Williams, student government president and senior in an email. “However, Mason does not strictly enforce these. Hopefully, signage and education campaigns will help us to avoid stricter enforcement. Mason is and should be an open campus, with each individual respecting the space and privacy – including fresh air – of one another.”

What changes are being suggested?

At a student government forum in 2011, students debated the current policy and how amendments could help provide rights to both smokers and non- smokers on campus. Suggested changes included more signage, which have since been posted at the JC East entrance, North Plaza entrance and the main entrance to SUB I.

“The question has always been: How to respect one’s right to smoke and one’s right from smoke? The goal is, through education initiatives undertaken by WAVES and by clearer and common signage, we will encounter fewer problems,” Williams said.

Though cognizant of the intrusion smokers cause on non- smokers,Williamsisanadvocate of personal rights and thinks it is important to reach a compromise between the two groups.

“As student body president, I believe the best policy is respect for the 25-foot perimeter. I smoke cigars occasionally, and I want to retain my right to smoke at the university,” Williams said. “However, someone who does not want to inhale that smoke— and in some cases, inhaling smoke could induce an asthma attack/respiratory response— should not have to. Thus, smoking should be permitted where it does not interfere with others — in this case, at 25-feet from a building. We are one community, and we ought to respect the space of one another. It is that simple.”

The current university policy was approved and implemented under former Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens. New Senior VP J.J. Davis is set to officially assume her role on March 4, providing an opportunity to sign off on a new policy.



  1. nothingtrivial says:

    Signs may be posted not to smoke in front of entrances, but these same entrances are where most ashtrays are located. With all of the problems on a college campus, is this one really that important? As far as I’ve been able to tell there are no smoking specific areas on campus. Maybe we should focus on bigger problems instead of worrying about where people smoke.

  2. Optima Cigs says:

    If they will provide some choices to the smokers than I think it will be easy for them to control this, they should make some designated areas for smoking and should allow students to use electronic cigarettes.

  3. Smoking bans are necessary, it helps to keep people away from tobacco products, millions of smokers die every year due to this dangerous addiction.