Many US college campuses are becoming tobacco-free as US schools
institute total bans, indoors and out, on cigarettes and related
products. Some smokers say the bans infringe on their choices.
The war on tobacco is going to college.
At a growing number of campuses nationwide, total bans on
cigarettes and other tobacco products are showing up, barring
students from lighting up anywhere on school grounds - even in the
The most recent school system to snuff out campus tobacco was the
Ohio public college system when the Board of Regents on Monday
recommended an all-out prohibition on tobacco products. In June, the
University System of Maryland announced its 12 institutions, inside
and out, would go smoke-free by next July. Come September, the use
and advertising of tobacco will be forbidden anywhere at schools
within the City University of New York system.
Between January 2011 and this January, the number of US colleges
and universities with total smoking bans rose from 466 to 648,
according to the group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. Already
this year, 126 schools have moved forward with smoke-free policies
that apply to all areas of campus.
"We hear from colleges they're there to educate and raise the
next generation of leaders, and that it's the responsible thing to
do," says Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for
Nonsmokers' Rights, based in Berkeley, Calif.
Some colleges have never allowed smoking for religious reasons.
But about a decade ago, some that permitted it began to impose bans
on indoor smoking that also governed - coinciding with similar
workplace laws - how far from entrances smokers had to be. The
concept of the smoke-free campus, which prohibits smoking even
outside, marks the trend's latest evolution.
In total, about 770 colleges are now smoke-free, according to
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. Some take that policy a step
further by forbidding all forms of tobacco, including chewing
tobacco. Because the organization relies on self-reported
information, the actual number is probably higher, Mr. Frick says.
While exact data remains murky, one-third to one-half of colleges
nationwide have likely implemented a policy or are weighing the
option, says Ty Patterson, executive director of the National Center
for Tobacco Policy, based in Springfield, Mo.
Policies barring smoking and tobacco have reached a "near tipping
point," says Mr. Patterson, who as the vice president of student
affairs instituted one of the first smoke-free campuses in the
country, at Ozarks Technical Community College in 2003.
The smoke-free movement on college campuses received a major
boost in 2006 when a report by the US Surgeon General flagged
secondhand smoke as risky at any exposure level, Patterson says. …