UH to alter smoking policy

Student Government Association passed a bill this semester increasing non-smoking areas on campus to 25 feet from 15 feet from building entrances. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

UH is working with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute to change its smoking policies so that the University will meet the institute’s new guidelines to receive research funding, said Assistant Vice President for University Health Initiatives Kathryn Peek.

The University has received between $6 million and $7 million in grants from CPRIT and will have the new guidelines in place by Aug. 31 to continue to receive support from the institute.

“The purpose of CPRIT is to bring the most talented scientists to work on cancer research prevention,” Peek said. “Texas is becoming the national place for cancer research; it is an extraordinary phenomena to see unfold.”

The new guidelines prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco products inside and outside of buildings where a CPRIT project is taking place, also banning smoking in the areas surrounding the project location, such as sidewalks, parking lots and walkways, according to the new CPRIT guidelines.

The Student Government Association adopted a smoking bill this semester that will increase non-smoking areas on campus from the current 15-foot requirement from the entrance of a building to 25 feet.

SGA Natural Sciences and Mathematics Senator Josie Ceasar, co-author of the bill, said the bill was created with students’ health in mind — not CPRIT guidelines.

According to Ceasar, SGA introduced the bill to ensure that “people do not have to be subject to second-hand smoke, because people have (the right to be) healthy and live and work and breath in a carcinogen-free environment.”

Biochemistry junior Keiran Chaandrran, who was smoking near M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, says he does not feel his rights are being violated.

“I think the right to smoke comes second to people who want the right to have a healthy life,” Chaandrran said. “It would be nice if they made (designated) smoking areas.”

Pre-pharmacy junior Zahal Aslami said she thinks establishing the smoking ban further away from building entrances is beneficial to people on campus.

“It’s known that second-hand smoking is harmful, and it would keep the smoke outside (of) some classrooms,” Aslami said. “We are now protecting those who don’t smoke.”

In March, the Provost will create a standing tobacco task force, composed of faculty, staff administrators and researchers, to ensure the campus is compliant with CPRIT rules. The task force will remain an organization on campus to oversee tobacco policies.

“I do not know what our tobacco policy will be like in August, but I do know that it will be CPRIT compliant,” Peek said.


  • Well, im not a smoker, but like the idea of designated smoking areas. My question is, what will happen to those violating the smoking policy and smoking where they shouldn't?

  • I agree with Steve.
    People don't acknowledge the 15 ft rule now. It is doubtful that they will acknowledge the 25 ft rule when enacted.
    Who will have the right to enforcement? How will students and staff be able to report violations? and will they be taken seriously?

  • I tried to take up smoking but I just couldn't get into the habit.

    I've always like the way military installations run their smoking policies, designate one area proportional to nearby working groups for all smoking. You cannot smoke to or from the area, only within, no exceptions.

  • After walking around campus and seeing how students don't even follow the 15ft rule that's in place right now I doubt a 25ft rule would make any difference. The student government needs to spend their time doing more productive tasks than indicting useless chivalry to the campus. Making designated smoking areas sounds like a fantastic idea so the smokers can engulf themselves with their putrid secondhand cancer sticks. It's an easy much more efficient way of dealing with this problem, better than beating around the bush with futile overwriting.

  • Way to go UH but please enforce this! Rather than having someone walking wround giving tickets and some security monitoring this as well all the time.

  • To eliminate all the conjecture about how many feet smokers need to be from the entrance of a campus building, why doesn't the university adopt a 100% smokefree campus policy? This would solve the distance concerns.

    Just to let you know there are currently 648 college and universities who have adopted a 100% smokefree policy on their campus, including 32 in Texas.

    What if someone went around campus and sprayed poison into the air that was in a small atomizer bottle like perfume. Would that be acceptable? To go to the extreme to make my point, what if the bottle contained Agent Orange? Asbestos?

    Secondhand smoke, Agent Orange and asbestos are all known human carcinogens, yet many in society still seem to accept secondhand smoke as a nuisance instead of it's lethal effect on us.

    • And how about we outlaw alcohol again, enforce that no one may ride a bike or car because you could hurt yourself or others. A campus this size is pretty much impossible to keep smoke free, especially since it’s a public commuter university. UH’s money would be better spend at repairing some of the lights that have been broken for over 3 years and make certain areas on campus alleyway dark.

  • How do you report violators? Around the Tech building breezeway people smoke here like crazy and every time I go inside I smell like a chimney! Apparently the University isn’t doing such a good job enforcing this policy… Even as I’m typing I’m inhaling all this damn smoke. It drives me crazy that they still haven’t done anything towards this policy!

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