'Declare varsity campus a no-smoking zone,' Univ senate member

University senate member Aruna Halgekar says notices should be put up in every corner, asserting the same

To protect 411 acres of the University of Pune campus, its student welfare department regularly sends instructions to all affiliated colleges prohibiting them from lighting a cigarette on the premises.

As per the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, smoking is strictly prohibited in all public places, including educational institutions, and flouting these rules can result in heavy fines. But UoP is hardly paying much attention to this.

Although UoP has a strict no-smoking policy, it has no system in place to punish smokers caught on campus. As a result, one of its senate members Aruna Halgekar has demanded that the campus should be declared as a no smoking zone. This issue has come to the fore just ahead of UoP’s annual budgetary senate meet, scheduled this Saturday.

Halgekar’s proposal states: “The senate is recommending its concerned governing body to make the university a no-smoking zone by displaying no-smoking boards everywhere in the campus.”

When contacted, Halgekar refused to comment, “till the proposal gets tabled in the senate meeting”.

UoP registrar Dr Narendra Kadu said that smoking is ‘strictly’ prohibited on campus and if anyone is caught, they’d be punished. But he was unable to explain what kind of action the administration would take. “There are a total of 18 hostel buildings and each building has a rector who ensures that no student is involved in such activities on the premises,” Kadu said.

Sources said that if UoP becomes a no-smoking zone, many teachers, too, would be forced to control the habit.
“One of our professors is a chain smoker and has an ashtray in his cabin full of cigarette butts. He does not smoke during lectures,” said an MA student anonymously.

No gripes at all?

UoP’s Student Welfare Department, which looks into smoking-related complaints, says it does not have any such complaints in its records. “I have not received a single complaint against anyone smoking in the UoP campus since the past two years. A separate student assistance committee has been appointed to inquire into such cases, but they have not received a single one,” said a senior university official on the condition of anonymity.

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