Villa Julie head pays for smoking Law: Effort to protect workers snares college president for lighting up in her office bathroom. Carolyn Manuszak says she will pay the $1,312 fine imposed on the school.

November 23, 1996|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

The president of Villa Julie College, which markets itself as "The Name That Opens Doors," is paying a fine of $1,312 for smoking in the closed confines of her office bathroom.

Carolyn Manuszak, who is in her 32nd year as president of the Green Spring Valley college, was cited last month for violating the state's landmark 20-month-old law banning smoking in workplaces.

Manuszak's smoking habits were investigated after an employee -- with the guarantee of anonymity -- formally complained to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) office, the agency charged with enforcing the workplace smoking law.

MOSH sent an inspector to the college in September, and it was charged with a "serious" violation, second in severity only to "willful." A "serious" violation is one with a "substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result."

The college was fined $2,625, but the levy was cut in half "for effective and efficient abatement during the inspection" and because Manuszak "promised she would no longer be smoking anywhere on campus," according to MOSH records.

The state inspector, Linda S. Harding, said that although the Villa Julie president had banned inside smoking campuswide more than a year before the Maryland law went into effect, "she continued to smoke in her bathroom adjacent to her office. She kept the window open hoping the smoke would migrate outside."

The health of 10 employees near Manuszak's office was endangered, according to Harding's report.

Manuszak said yesterday that she took the violation seriously and had posted the citation prominently, as required by MOSH regulations, for a day longer than the three required.

"I realize that smoking is not good for anyone's health," she said. "I would never encourage anyone to take it up, and I wish I had never started. I do not smoke in my office now."

MOSH officials said Manuszak was the sole violator identified at Villa Julie, which they said was the first college to be punished under the new law. The citation was issued in the college's name, but the president said she would pay the fine from personal funds.

Maryland's workplace smoking law, one of the toughest in the country, bans smoking in offices, factories, stores, schools and government buildings. It was enacted in March 1995 after Gov. Parris N. Glendening agreed to compromises that allow smoking in bars, taverns and private clubs that serve alcohol.

MOSH allowed a six-month "education" period before it began enforcing the law in September 1995.

Carolyn West, MOSH regulations coordinator, said the agency conducted 136 workplace inspections during the first year and issued 190 citations. She said the agency had not calculated the amount of fines collected.

Al Ertel, cochairman of the Coalition for Smoke-Free Maryland Workplaces, said yesterday that "voluntary compliance and enforcement" of the smoking ban "has been very good with the glaring exception of restaurants."

Villa Julie became smoke-free in March 1994. "There is no need to 'preach' to any of you about this," Manuszak said at that time in a memo announcing that smokers would have to puff outside. "This is a college community, so all are presumed to be aware of the harm of smoking, to others as well as to ourself."

The dean of Maryland college presidents, Manuszak has led Villa Julie from a small junior college to a bustling four-year school offering associate and baccalaureate degrees in a number of fields. The school recently added a master's degree program in advanced information technology.

Villa Julie has embarked on a $26 million expansion that will nearly double its physical plant. It opened the fall semester with 1,865 full- and part-time students.

Pub Date: 11/23/96

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