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UNIVERSITY SAFETY COMMITTEE
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Date
October 19, 2005

Next Meeting

 MEMBERS PRESENT:   :Katrina Doolittle, Linda Perez, Jose Gamon, Chris Pennise, Missy Giacomelli (for Gregg Block), Katy Enriquez, Richard Long, Angela Velasco and David Shearer.

The regular Safety Committee Meeting was called to order by Katrina Doolittle, chair, at 3:35 p.m.. The minutes of the previous meeting were unanimously approved, with the following correction: committee member Leigh’s last name was misspelled, should be DeRoos and not LeRoos.

Old Business: None.

New Business:   Smoking Policy review, revision or expansion by Katrina Doolittle.

• Katrina Doolittle stated that Ben Woods, VP for Human & Physical Resources, asked her to revise the current NMSU smoking policy. Katrina stated that she would like the help of committee members to draft revisions to the current smoking policy. In the year 2002, Human Resources Department took action to modify the smoking policy. The draft was presented to Advisory Council on Administrative Policy (ACAP) in 2003. Comments from ACAP were that building monitors did not want to have the responsibility of enforcing the policy and questioned who would collect fines. At the time Bob Howell, Director for Human Resources, stated that NMSU Police would perform the role of collecting fines from smoking violators.

• Katrina distributed the current NMSU smoking policy and read a few of the highlights, stating that the New Mexico Clean Indoor Act is a law and has been incorporated into the NMSU smoking policy.

• Katrina asked, “where is smoking permitted now on campus?” David Shearer stated that smoking is permitted at the stadium, it was designated smoking only in certain parts of the stadium. It was stated that smoking is permitted anywhere outside. Katy stated that the City of Las Cruces tried to institute a no smoking area within a 50-foot perimeter from buildings.

• Katrina asked Missy Giacomelli what housing residences permitted smoking? Missy stated that Rhodes-Garrett-Hamiel Residence Center, Monagle and Garcia Hall are smoke-free units. She stated that in the other facilities smoking is allowed as long as everyone in the same residence is a smoker and that in family housing it is up to the families. Currently in Alumni, Greek, and Family Housing smoking is permitted based on personal preferences. Buildings that are smoke free are those where neighbors have direct impact on each other. A public place of any building is smoke free (laundry room, offices, lobbies, TV room, etc . . . ). The only place smoking is allowed is individual residences. Katrina asked Missy if they have a written policy that is handed out to students. Missy stated that the Housing application indicates the smoke-free areas and if there are smokers assigned to a smoke-free building they are asked to smoke outside the residence. Housing has a smoking perimeter of 50 feet from building. Katrina asked Missy for a copy of the written policy and asked if the policy was in the student Code Hand Book or if it is something that only apply to housing residences. Missy stated that she did not know, but would forward a copy to Katrina.

• Katrina stated that the committee should work to clarify the phrasing regarding smoking in vehicles. To say something to the effect “that we have a duty to provide a place of employment without the hazard of second hand smoke.” Katrina read from other universities policy stating that other universities have gone the second step to provide smoking areas that are at acceptable distance from building so people feel more accommodated and will become less of an issue for enforcement. Katrina stated that she found that 90% to 95% of other universities prohibited smoking within university building entrances and 95% identified no smoking in vehicles.

• Katrina stated that the recommended distance for smokers to be from buildings entrances/exists and ventilation systems should be within reason for the kind of spaces that have to be accommodated. Linda Perez stated that in Biology there is only one entrance/exit and that people sit outside the steps to smoke. The smokers from Biology building have been asked to sit outside the Library where there are benches.

• Katrina read the building monitors responsibilities from the current policy and stated that the obligations were too much to ask of them. Linda Perez stated that as a monitor for two buildings she felt it was not a problem to ask smokers to refrain from smoking or move away from the building. She stated that once it is set-up people tend to follow. Katrina made members aware that many of these monitors are secretaries that have no training for such duties. Katy Enriquez stated that the Police Department could possibly train building monitors, because they do not have the man power to respond to smoking restraints. Further stating that if someone was getting aggressive when asked to move or refrain from smoking the Police Department would then be forced to respond, because then it would be interfering with faculty & staff. David asked if someone from a department called Police to respond to a smoking violation will they respond and will there be any penalties? Katy stated that they will respond but they will not arrest anyone for smoking. Katy stated that many smokers, if confronted in a friendly manner, would be cooperative. David asked Katy “how do we fine someone on University grounds?” Katy stated that the Police cannot fine anyone. David asked “how does Police assess traffic parking lot violations. Katy states that she does not know how that is done, but it should be done by citations. Parking is separate from Police. David asked “what is a citation?” Katy said it was a ticket. David asked “what is the ticket against.” Katy stated that it was against a State Statute, a violation against the law. Katrina curtailed discussion by reading a section from another university smoking policy that stated “enforcement will depend upon all members of the campus by encouraging others to comply” further stating that she read this in many university policies.

• David stated that 50% of people on campus are not employees. He stated that postgraduate and visiting faculties are causing this problem because often the countries they come from do not have a problem with this. They may be employees but there is little that can be done through HR, David stated. Katy stated that if an individual does not want to move to a designated place, Police can cite them for public nuisance. Katrina subsequently reviewed the statute and found that it states “violations of any of the provisions of Clean Indoor Air Act shall not constitute evidence of negligence nor sustain an action for nuisance”.

• Katrina read the current penalties that are stated in the smoking policy and asked Katy if these are enforced by Police. Katy stated that in eleven years she has never been called out for a smoking violation. She stated that the university cannot fine people, but if they were to take a law enforcement act against the individual it is done through the courts. Katy stated that if the Police needed to take a law enforcement action of some type stated in the Clean Air Act the court fines could come to the fines stated in the smoking policy. She is not familiar with the state statute regarding fines. Katy will look into these penalties and forward to Katrina. The stature states “any person who commits an unlawful act under any provisions of the Clean Indoor Air Act shall be fined in an amount of not less than $10 or more than $25 for each violation.

• Linda read highlights from the UT Medical Center smoking policy that stated “employees found smoking in areas other than specifically designated and posted will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.” Angela read the smoking compliance and cooperation statements from Oklahoma’s University for smoking policy. It spoke of courtesy and consideration in informing others who are in violation of policy and that complaints against an offender should be referred to the dean, director or manager of the area for appropriate disciplinary action.

• Katrina stated that one goal for the revision is to offer educational support to help smokers stop smoking. This type of support is offered though NMSU Health centers. She would like to incorporate the following comments into the policy “In light of numerous adverse health effects associated with the act of smoking, the university will provide education services to faculty, students and staff about the hazardous of smoking and information services about quitting smoking.” Compliance and co-operation for penalties to read “Faculty, student and staff violating this policy are subject to disciplinary action and those having difficulty complying are asked to seek assistance.”

• Several options were discussed regarding the distance for smokers to maintain from entries/exits’ and ventilation systems and smoking in University vehicles. A motion was made to have smokers stand 25 feet from entries/exits’ and ventilation systems. A second motion was made to have no smoking in NMSU University vehicles. Both motions were passed by a majority of safety committee members present.

• Katrina, Missy, and Linda Perez will form a subcommittee to draft changes to the policy. Once the draft is formed, it will be e-mailed to the committee members for their comments.

Older Business: none   

Other Business: none

There being no further discussion the meeting was adjourned at 4:55 P.M. 

The next University Safety Committee Meeting is to be scheduled.

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