State System's 14 universities may ease outdoor smoking ban

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The smoking ban on the 14 campuses of the State System of Higher Education has brought visible changes on some campuses, including new signs and fewer students clustering in groups to smoke.

But three months after the ban was announced, the nuts and bolts still haven't been worked out.

The ban on smoking indoors and outdoors was implemented by Chancellor John Cavanaugh based on his interpretation of a new state anti-smoking law. Some other public campuses have interpreted it differently and still permit smoking outdoors, away from building entrances and air intake systems.

The ban brought protests from some employee unions, saying any rules are subject to collective bargaining.

A hearing on an unfair labor practice charge filed by the faculty union, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, is scheduled for Dec. 23 before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

Spokesman Kevin Kodish said the union is in talks with the state system but declined to comment on them.

Kenn Marshall, state system spokesman, said system officials have proposed some modifications to the ban.

They have suggested permitting smoking on the fringes of campus, on sidewalks on public access roads. It also is considering letting employees smoke in their cars with their windows up.

He knew of no one who has been cited for smoking on campus and characterized campuses as in the "educational phase" of the process.

"If people are seen smoking on campus, they are approached and told this is a smoke-free area. You need to put the cigarettes out," he said.

Some, but not all, of the state universities have posted no-smoking signs.

At Slippery Rock University, spokesman Karl Schwab said he no longer sees students in groups smoking outside buildings at class changes although sometimes he sees a lone student smoking while walking.

At Indiana University of Pennsylvania, spokeswoman Michelle Fryling looked out her window and didn't see anyone smoking in the Oak Grove. Signs are up, and cigarette receptacles are gone.


Eleanor Chute can be reached at echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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