Vice President Patricia L. Clubb (University operations) reported on the need to modify the University’s tobacco-free policy in order to meet new regulations from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The current University policy bans smoking inside campus buildings and within twenty feet of the entrance to buildings. The vice president said an effort was underway to increase the distance from entrances to twenty-five feet when the new rules arrived from CPRIT.
CPRIT was created in 2007 by a referendum that amended the Texas Constitution and authorized the state to issue $3 billion in bonds for cutting-edge cancer research and prevention programs in Texas. The organization has established a foundation for accumulating on-going contributions as well. UT Austin currently receives $33 million per year from CPRIT and could receive in the neighborhood of $88-90 million given the applications that have been submitted. Due to the magnitude of current and potential funding, Vice President Clubb emphasized that the University must protect the research being undertaken and accomplished with this money. In an effort to secure input from the campus for the new policy that must be developed and adopted, she invited Council members to provide suggestions at the meeting or to email her later because it was essential to get a policy that met the requirements and that would work here on the UT Austin campus.
Vice President Clubb explained CPRIT had issued the new two-page rule in January that stated all buildings where CPRIT-funded research is being conducted must be tobacco-free. In addition to the areas around the buildings, the sidewalks, walkways between buildings, courtyards, and adjacent parking structures must be tobacco-free. To gather data about where CPRIT-funded researchers work on campus, a survey was conducted and a map resulted that reflects the data received, which is attached in Appendix A. The vice president explained the map was just an approximation since the exact buildings where the research is being conducted will change over time as grants are completed and new ones are begun. To illustrate the complexity of the situation, she said graduate students who perform grant-related work in buildings other than where the research is primarily located are also covered, so the off-site locations would need to also be tobacco-free.
Vice President Clubb presented the following four options that are currently being considered:
- Total ban of tobacco-use throughout the entire campus
- Total ban, with carve-outs, such as MSI, McDonald, charter schools, field offices, and the property outside the main areas where the CPRIT research takes place
- Multiple boundaries around each building where CPRIT research takes place
- Total ban, with designated smoking areas within that total ban
She said another variant of the last option would be to create designated areas with advanced notice that the areas would no longer be available after a two-year period of time. This would provide tobacco users time to deal with their habits or consider other places of employment. Vice President Clubb discussed the options in considerable detail, giving the pros and cons of each, which largely dealt with the following general attributes: expectations, culture of wellness, enforcement, fairness, personal freedom, privacy, cost, and personal safety. Instead of ticketing violators, signage would be extensively used to market the new and active smoking cessation programs offered by the University. She added that no decision had been reached so far about how to deal with habitual offenders.
Vice President Clubb asked Council members to talk with their colleagues about the issues involved in the new tobacco-free policy and forward any feedback or suggestions to her office. She then said she would be happy to answer questions. After telling about the stroke she suffered in 1993 and her success at the difficult task of quitting smoking, Professor Hilley asked Council members to consider supporting the Tobacco-free Campus program across the UT campus. Vice President Clubb reported that UT student government had endorsed a resolution asking for a smoke-free campus so she expected the students would support whatever option the University adopted. Vice Provost Langlois said she had observed, during trips with her son to various campuses both in Texas and other states, an amazing number of universities and colleges that had adopted tobacco-free policies. She said this was a relatively common practice although some campuses had greater success in convincing individuals to comply with the regulation than others apparently had. Dr. Hart said not smoking is so beneficial for everyone that she saw no need to mention the many reasons. When she said she did not like the precedent of an organization dictating behavioral practices on our campus because they were funding research, Vice President Clubb responded that the tobacco-free mandate was coming from a Texas state agency.
Chair Friedman thanked the vice president for her report and noted he thought only the first option was a possibility when he first heard about the issue. As a result, he presented the issue to the FCEC, which endorsed the total campus ban with no dissent. If an endorsement were needed, he was willing to have the Faculty Council vote on the issue when a resolution was ready for presentation. President Powers said there were numerous complications regarding the policy. For example, graduate housing owned by the University would be included in a total ban. He said he was not advocating that graduate housing be exempted, but it was important to consider issues such as this in determining what to do. The president said the University may have to put a tentative plan together before gathering total input from all groups; if this situation became necessary, he said the tentative policy could later be adjusted or altered, based on the input received. Chair Friedman said he had thought the issue was a critical one in terms of time so he presented it right away to the FCEC; however, he assured the president the Council would be willing to handle the matter whenever the University finalized its policy.