Tobacco products are bad for you. In many cases, they’re bad for people around you. But until relatively recently, few universities actually taken steps to do something about tobacco use among their communities. In Philadelphia, for example, four universities have begun a process to ban any tobacco products from their campuses.
Laura Siminoff, dean of the College of Public Health at Temple University, points to why colleges are trying blanket bans: “if you do not start smoking by the age of 25, you are almost undoubtedly never going to become a smoker… one of the prime times for people to start smoking is when they go to university.” While some think that universities shouldn’t try to police behavior, and I suspect at least one stoner has tried to tie their pot habit to a political statement in the hopes of winning a First Amendment case, few of those people are in charge of making policy decisions.
Philadelphia isn’t the only place where smoking has been forbidden. Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Louisiana all forbid smoking on campus.
No Birmingham institutions have implemented anything so drastic. However, one comes close. UAB, because it doubles as a hospital, has declared smoking “prohibited in all buildings, facilities, and spaces (including covered walkways and covered parking) that are owned, rented, or leased by [UAB].” Pretty strict.
Birmingham-Southern College could be the least restrictive, allowing smoking anywhere which is at least 50 feet away from a building, or anywhere pre-approved by the school administration.
There’s nothing unusual about any of our city’s schools’ policies. Outside of the few states that ban smoking entirely, all of these policies are interchangeable across America. But will that change? If so, I think UAB would be the first to ban smoking. After all, they’re also a hospital.