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December 7, 2006

County smoking ban has little effect on campus

When Pitt smokers return to campus following the holiday break, they will have to move at least five feet away from most building entrances to light up, under a county-wide smoking ban that goes into effect Jan. 2.

(See Oct. 26 University Times.)

Under the ordinance, passed by Allegheny County Council Sept. 26 and most recently amended Nov. 21, smoking is banned within five feet of all entrances “of an enclosed area in which smoking is prohibited.”

By a 9-5 vote, County Council shortened the distance restrictions from entrances to non-health care facilities countywide from 15 feet to five feet.

Smokers still must stay 15 feet from entrances to all health care facilities, defined as “including, but not limited to, hospitals, clinics, physical therapy facilities and doctors’ offices.”

In 1991, Pitt banned smoking in all University vehicles and inside its owned and leased buildings, including off-campus housing facilities. But the policy did not stipulate distance from doorways. Pitt’s policy 04-05-03 also governs UPMC buildings.

Under Pitt’s policy, administrative officers are responsible for enforcing the 1991 regulations. Facilities Management is responsible for ensuring that signs comply with city-required specifications.

According to the new county ordinance, the ban will be enforced by the Allegheny County Health Department and “any municipality’s designated law enforcement agency.”

The health department also will record and field individual complaints via a dedicated telephone line.

During the first 180 days following the ordinance’s effective date, first-time violators will be issued a warning, followed by a $250 fine for subsequent violations. After 180 days, all violators will be fined $250 per violation.

According to Pitt’s policy, Jay Frerotte, as director of Environmental Health and Safety, is responsible for inspecting and approving designated smoking areas and reviewing possible exceptions to University policy. Frerotte did not respond to an email request for comment.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 39 Issue 8

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