The University of Chester hopes staff, students and visitors will keep a New Year’s resolution to ban smoking from all its campuses.

Smokers will have to go off site or to a designated smoking area from January 4, 2016.

During the initial period there will be a softy-softly approach with smoking cessation services and support offered to the workforce. However, staff are warned that from August 1 next year there will be sanctions for anyone caught breaking the policy by having a sneaky fag on site or in a university vehicle.

An email to staff states the move is in response to a recent survey which revealed 82% of the workforce would support a smoking ban.

The circular continues: “Consequently, the university has decided that with effect from 4th January 2016, smoking by staff, students, suppliers and visitors (other than in new designated smoking areas to be provided at some sites) will be prohibited on all university sites and facilities and in university vehicles.

“The use of e-cigarettes in open spaces on university sites (ie not inside buildings or vehicles) will be permitted.”

'Sanctions' for naughty smokers

The email concludes: “Between 4th January 2016 and 1st August 2016, the university will provide staff with access to smoking cessation services and support. During this time an operational framework together with a more formal policy will be developed and from 1st August 2016 the policy will be enforced by sanctions imposed for failure to observe it.”

Chester Students’ Union says there is a trend towards smoke-free campuses across the UK. The union hosted a debate on the subject back in October and asked students on Twitter whether they agreed with a smoking ban.

Vivian Oka Odu replied with a simple ‘Yup’. But Dee Harvey tweeted: “So you expect students to stand outside the front of campus instead, I’m sure that will go down well with students and the public.”

A total of 410 people voted with the results revealing a split – 46% were in favour of a smoking ban while 54% were against.

The University of Chester's Parkgate Road campus

The move against smoking stepped up a gear in 2007, when it became illegal for anyone to smoke in an enclosed public place or workplace in England. And there was controversy locally when it emerged the local authority considered Chester’s world famous Rows were impacted by the ban, much to the annoyance of some bar and restaurant owners based on the historic walkways.

A few months earlier, the Countess of Chester Hospital had taken the bold step of voluntarily bringing in a site-wide smoking ban, including its grounds, in order to promote a positive health message.

In October of this year it became illegal to smoke in cars carrying children in England and Wales. Both driver and smoker can face a £50 penalty fine.