UHV restricts smoking to new outdoor areas

University's new designated smoking areas
Justin Kutzer, University of Houston-Victoria grounds supervisor, lays mulch in one of the university’s new designated smoking areas. UHV recently updated its smoking policy to further limit smoking areas at the Victoria campus.

The University of Houston-Victoria’s smoking policy is now more restrictive but still allows employees, students and visitors to smoke in several designated, outdoor locations.

Up until this week, smoking was allowed anywhere outside on the UHV campus unless the smoker was less than 12 feet from a building entrance. Each building now has a marked smoking area nearby, and smoking is not allowed in any common-use or common-traffic areas, such as playing fields, entryways and walkways.

“We decided to change our policy because of concerns brought up by nonsmokers,” UHV Interim President Don Smith said. “More public universities are becoming smoke-free, but we wanted to meet the needs of both smokers and nonsmokers at UHV.”

The new smoking areas are on the southwest sides of both the University West building and the University Center building on the main campus at 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The two buildings on the other side of Ben Wilson that house the UHV Facilities Department and the Small Business Development Center have designated smoking areas in back.

Jaguar Hall, 2705 Houston Highway, has two smoking areas: one in the center of the courtyard and the other behind the residence hall between the southwest corner and stairwell C on the ground floor. Signs marking the smoking areas at Jaguar Hall will be placed next week.

UHV facilities employees have constructed the smoking area next to University West during the last few weeks, adding picnic tables, benches and landscaping to match the outdoor seating area on the southeast side of the building. The area was built using Texas Higher Education Assistance Funds, which are designated for purposes such as building improvements and cannot be used by the university as general operating funds.

“We hope that this will give smokers a convenient place where they can go but at the same time respect nonsmokers who want to stay away from cigarette smoke,” Facilities Services Director Kevin Myers said.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler