Put that cigarette down and slowly back away.
The University of Houston is on its way to becoming a tobacco-free campus.
Under a new proposal by school officials, UH would outlaw the “use, sale, advertising, and sampling of all tobacco products” on the 667-acre campus. Currently, smoking is prohibited inside buildings and cars and within 15 feet of building entrances.
The proposed policy must be approved by the UH president and council of vice presidents, but officials already are planning a fall semester “rollout” that would include an education campaign and smoking cessation classes, said Kathryn Peek, assistant vice president of university health initiatives and co-chair of the Tobacco Task Force. The policy would apply only to the main campus.
During a 12-month phase-in of the new policy, smoking would be allowed in temporary designated smoking areas, Peek said.
In February, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas announced that grant recipients would be required to have tobacco-free policies. UH has received $6.9 million in funding from CPRIT and expects more in the future, Peek said.
The University of Texas at Austin, which has received about $30 million in CPRIT funding, banned tobacco in April. Texas A&M, which has been awarded about $3.4 million in CPRIT grants, plans to modify its current policy, which forbids smoking inside buildings and athletic facilities.
According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, about 711 colleges and universities are 100 percent smoke-free.
I had no idea this sort of thing has been happening on college campuses. My own alma mater has not taken this step yet. I don’t see any sign that the anti-smoking movement is slowing down, which is fine by me. The public health case for limiting cigarettes as much as possible is crystal clear.
Sometimes I think about the ways in which my life and experiences growing up will be utterly incomprehensible to my daughters. Much of that has to do with the advance of technology, but in many ways societal change will be more profound. When I was Olivia’s age, you could fly in the smoking section of an airplane. I’ve had the misfortune of being stuck in such a place before. When I filled out my roommate-match form for college, one of the questions asked was whether or not you smoked. I waited tables at a restaurant the summer after my sophomore year that was about 90% smoking section; the four tables that didn’t have ashtrays on them were non-smoking in name only. In the early 90s, it was still possible to buy an entry for the smoking section of a bridge tournament; these were generally held in hotels. And so on and so forth. Not everything about the world my girls are growing up in is better, but this part of it sure is.