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There are no ifs, whys or butts about Harvard Kennedy School's new smoke-free policy.
As of March 1, the entire HKS campus is smoke-free, meaning that smoking is prohibited inside any campus building or outside on HKS grounds, including the courtyard, and within 25 feet of building entrances, outdoor air intakes and windows.
“We make this move to promote good health and to reduce any impacts from smoke upon our staff, faculty and students,” wrote Executive Dean John Haigh in an email to all Kennedy School faculty and staff. “While we admit that the policy may cause some inconvenience for smokers, we feel that this is outweighed by the positive benefits of a smoke-free campus for all of the people who work, study at and visit our facilities.”
It’s been almost 20 years since policies prohibiting indoor smoking were first implemented at Harvard University. Although controversial at the time, non-smoking policies quickly proliferated after the city of Cambridge passed a stringent policy claiming smoking in public places to be a "public nuisance." Two years ago the entire Longwood Campus – covering Harvard Medical School, the School of Public Health, and the School of Dental Medicine – became the first at Harvard to go entirely smoke free –both inside and out. More recently the Business School banned smoking on campus and now HKS is doing the same.
The new policy was recommended by a Smoking Task Force – consisting of HKS faculty, staff members, and students – which convened in October of last year.
The new policy also brings HKS into compliance with the latest U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) certification requirements.
“I’m very supportive [of the new policy],” says Elsa Sze, MBA/MPA 2014. “I think this is something that should have happened earlier. The Kennedy School is a school of public service and we lead by example.”
“I believe smoking is unhealthy and I don’t like being exposed to second-hand smoke,” said Robert Belk MPP 2012.
Luisa Mosso, who works in the Kennedy School cafeteria, feels now is as good a time as any to quit smoking. “I only smoke during my breaks so I’m thinking about quitting," she said. "I’ve been trying to quit smoking for a long time so this will give me less chance to smoke during the day.”
The impact of smoking bans on spouses and peers was analyzed in a 2008 research paper, “Social Interactions and Smoking,” co-authored by Edward L. Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, and David Cutler, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics. The authors concluded that extenuating circumstances that make one person less likely to smoke are also likely to decrease the probability that a friend or colleague will smoke seemingly providing credence to the idea that a smoking ban could have a multiplier positive health impact upon the affected community.
For more information on smoking and how to quit, visit the smokefree.gov website. The Harvard University Employee Assistance Program also offers plans to help smokers kick the habit.
New "Smoke Free Campus" signs have been placed throughout the Kennedy School campus. This one is outside the courtyard door to the Taubman building.
Photo Credit: Doug Gavel
“We make this move to promote good health and to reduce any impacts from smoke upon our staff, faculty and students,” wrote Executive Dean John Haigh.