Northern Regional College (@NRCCollege) has gone smoke free – the first Further Education College in Northern Ireland and one of the few in the country to ban smoking completely.
The smoke free policy, which was introduced at the start of the new academic year, means that smoking is no longer permitted anywhere inside College buildings or in the grounds. Previously smoking was only allowed in designated outdoor smoking areas.
The change in policy reflects the College’s ongoing commitment to creating and maintaining a healthy environment for all staff, students and visitors. The smoking ban, which includes e-cigarettes, applies to all College campuses in Ballymoney, Ballymena, Coleraine, Magherafelt and Newtownabbey.
Fiona McDowell, Equality and Wellbeing Manager at Northern Regional College said the College’s plans to introduce an outright smoking ban had been accelerated because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“In the past, smokers would have congregated together in small groups but in line with social distancing guidance, this is no longer feasible. Underlying the ban though is the fact that the College is only too aware of the damage cigarette smoking does to the smoker, both financially and from a health point of view. We are also very conscious of the damage that can be caused by passive smoking.”
Head of Student Services, Stephen McCartney added that he would respectfully ask smokers to smoke off campus and away from any access points to College property.
“Some of our campuses are in residential areas so, as a courtesy to the health and well-being of our neighbours, we would ask smokers not smoke in these areas or leave cigarette litter lying around.”
Local councils in the College’s catchment area are supportive of the move to ‘Smoke Free’ campuses, both to promote health and wellbeing and to reduce potential littering.