The starting date of the UU smoke-free premises has been postponed from 1 August 2020 to 1 January 2021. Needless to say, Utrecht University wants to offer its staff, visitors and students a healthy environment. Making the Utrecht Science Park with its many users smoke-free is a complex task which involves a lot of preparation and coordination with other parties. Currently, the corona crisis and the phased restart of educational activities requires so much attention that implementing smoke-free premises in an effective way by 1 August is not feasible. The UU gives preference to diligence and quality above speed.
Currently however, the focus is on the corona crisis and related activities for the phased start-up of the various activities. This will require a lot of time and attention. Introducing the smoke-free premises on 1 August at that time is not desirable. In addition, the situation is particularly complex in the Utrecht Science Park. There are buildings of Utrecht University, Hogeschool Utrecht, catering facilities, shops, houses and other organisations. More coordination is needed with the various parties involved. The UU opts for diligence and quality and will therefore introduce the smoke-free premises at a later date.
The Ministry of Health, Science and Sport has informed all educational institutions that the commencement date of smoke-free school grounds is 1 August, but that the government will not enforce it until 1 January. This gives educational institutions room to focus on more urgent issues in the context of the coronavirus.
What does this mean for the UU now?
In 2019, the UU has started to make its premises smoke-free in stages. A number of faculties had already set up smoke-free zones on (parts of) their premises. Since last summer, the Leuvenplein and the grounds of the University Library in the city centre are smoke-free areas. Pilots have been carried out in those areas to try out what does and does not work, for example in terms of enforcement and indicating the smoke-free area. There is still a smoking facility on both premises. Old smoking faciities have been reused for this purpose. These will remain in place until the Christmas holidays. It is possible that in the run-up to 1 January the number of pilot sites will be increased.
Enforcement and supervision
The educational institutions themselves will be responsible for establishing, designating and enforcing the smoke-free area. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) supervises this. The premises are smoke-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The university is responsible for enforcing the regulations during the use of its buildings and associated grounds.
Which areas are part of the university premises?
Those areas that meet one of three criteria below must be made smoke-free:
- The area is adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of a building or facility of an educational institution.
- The building or facility is used for education.
- The area is in use by the educational institution.
Consultations with USP partners
In recent months, the university has consulted with the municipality and other organisations in the Utrecht Science Park. These consultations will be continued and the university will work together with these parties to make the premises smoke-free.