Last bastion of smoker’s rights letting go

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STANFORD, CA – The times they are a changin’. And one of the last hold-outs is going with them.

Stanford University, which has long prided itself on “academic freedom,” is banning the sale of cigarettes on campus. While most colleges in the U.S. have long-ago banned smoking and tobacco sales on campus, Stanford has been slow to follow suit. But after a barrage of faculty and student-led initiatives, the school has relented. A little. While smoking will still be permitted in public areas of the school, beginning March 1st cigarette sales will be nixed.

At the University of Houston, that ship has already sailed.

“We don’t actually have that type of privilege anymore where we can go around and walk around and smoke,” student John Abraham laments. “We have to sit in our designated area and stay here the whole time.”

Cigarette sales have been long banned at UH and smoking is only allowed in designated areas of campus. But little good the rule seems to have done.

“I usually ignore it,” Brice Turner explains. “I will come to a smoking area if I’m able to walk around and get to one, but if I’m just wanting a cigarette, I usually just ignore it. And I haven’t had anyone stop me or tell me I shouldn’t so…”

“I think the policy as it is implemented doesn’t take in mind the students and the fact that they live here,” Danny Alexander says. “I think that they should have made the plans in such a way that students would be able to smoke on campus in the places where they live, i.e. the residential zones, at the very least.”

It’s the same rules at Rice. But regardless of rules, the same old question hasn’t gone away: where do smoker’s rights end and nonsmoker’s begin? That’s one even the geniuses at Stanford may not be able to figure out.