Tobacco policy “covers everyone on campus”

The smell of burning tobacco greeted senior Natalie DeClue as she stepped out of her car on a clear April afternoon.

The education major has seen the campus landscape change during her four years at the university, including completion of the Performance Center in 2015 and the Griffin Center in 2016.

Now, construction workers renovating the two newest structures on campus, the $25.6 million upgrade to the Physical Activities Center, and the new $3 million Fuquay Welcome Center, had just lit up another cigarette.

“I really do not think it is appropriate for (the workers) to smoke on a smoke-free campus,” DeClue said.

Empire Contractors, the company overseeing construction of the university’s newest facilities, maintains an A plus rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Director of Facilities Operations and Planning Jim Wolfe told The Shield in February that Empire does quality work.

“They work well with us,” Wolfe said.

Empire did not return a request for comment regarding construction workers smoking on the job from The Shield.

The tobacco-free policy, issued in 2011, includes the entire campus and outlaws tobacco, tobacco-related products and e-cigarettes.

Public Safety Director Steve Bequette said construction workers in violation of the university’s tobacco policy face the same consequences as anyone else would.

“The policy covers everyone on campus,” he said. “I would contact the construction manager, or whoever is overseeing the project.”

Smoking, however, is permitted inside personal vehicles, as long as the contents of the tobacco remain inside at all times. The university policy states that “primary enforcement will be the responsibility of those persons who head individual units, departments, buildings, student housing units, those who supervise faculty and staff, security personnel, and others designated by the University.”

Bequette said the policy speaks for itself.

“It all falls back to a collaborative effort among the campus community,” he said. “If this is brought to me or forwarded to me, we do take some type of action. The (deans or head of other university buildings) may ask my opinion, but it goes back to them.”

Bequette said any reports of construction workers smoking on the job are “not reaching me or my office.”

He said Public Safety is not tasked with overseeing the policy. More so, as the policy states, it would be left up the dean of each college, or resident assistant in university housing.

“We don’t have the staff to run down everyone on campus,” Bequette said. “That is not what the policy reads. Officers do come across people smoking, and they do their part.”

Bequette said some individuals are hesitant about the non-smoking campus climate and can be resistant at times. He said those people are referred to the Dean of Students Office.

According to the university handbook, violations of tobacco policy are handled through existing processes already in place for students, faculty, and staff. Student violations will be processed under the Student Code of Conduct.

As for DeClue, she said although she has not seen much, if any, tobacco use on the university’s campus, the issue is broader and not just a problem among college students.

“I think that use of tobacco is the real issue here,” she said. “However, I think the university has done a good job controlling it because I haven’t seen much smoking other than some workers.”