Trinity College Dublin Becomes Tobacco-Free Campus

Almost three years after establishing tobacco-free zones on its campus, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has announced it will officially become a tobacco-free campus beginning on National No Smoking Day, or March 6.

TCD Students’ Union initially were resistant to the idea, said health promotion officer Martina Mullen. However, the momentum to create a tobacco-free campus grew with student support, she added.

Once the campus becomes tobacco-free, people will be permitted to only smoke in two designated smoking shelters and on the perimeter of College Park on the campus, according to The Irish Times.

In other areas on the campus, “student ambassadors” will remind those on the campus that the college is tobacco-free.

“It won’t be enforced [with fines] but people will be requested not to smoke,” Mullin said. “Research has found that it is more likely to be effective when people are encouraged not to smoke rather than punished for not complying. There will always be a certain cohort who will continue to smoke.”

Recent research regarding smoking at Trinity College Dublin found that more than 80 percent compliance with tobacco-free areas since 2016. A key factor of the approach has been student-led campaigns, such as the healthy library initiative, where student organizations invite students to try activity sessions as an alternative to taking smoke breaks.

“The idea is, don’t take a cigarette break – take a frisbee, table tennis, yoga, mindfulness, badminton or board game break,” Mullin said.

Dr. David McGrath, head of student health services at Trinity, sees the tobacco-free initiative as an important public health issue as part of the campus’ Health Promoting University strategy.

“By creating a smoke-free, cleaner and healthier physical environment, we hope that our students will see and feel the benefits of the policy and carry the tobacco-free ethos with them when they move into the next phase of their lives,” McGrath said.

In establishing the campus as tobacco-free, TCD joins an increasing number of campuses across Ireland doing the same, such as the University of Limerick, the University College Dublin and the institutes of technology in Westport, Carlow and Athlone. Over 1,700 campuses in the United States are tobacco-free.

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