A smoke-free campus?

Where is your favorite place to eat on campus?

  • Pink's Pizza (18%, 36 Votes)
  • Food trucks (17%, 34 Votes)
  • McAlister's Deli (17%, 33 Votes)
  • University Center (14%, 27 Votes)
  • University Center Satellite (13%, 26 Votes)
  • Fresh Food Co. (7%, 14 Votes)
  • Jimmy John's (6%, 12 Votes)
  • Cougar Woods (5%, 9 Votes)
  • Cafe 101 (5%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 199

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Bryan Washington

Our student government’s smoking ban would be a pleasant idea if it weren’t absolutely ridiculous. It’s simply devoid of sense.

Even if we were to bypass the fact that only a handful of students are even aware that it exists, the timing of its creation more than accounts for the surplus unprofessionalism surrounding it.

The idea of a non-smoking campus is a wonderful thing to imagine, but turning the image into a reality is neither logical nor possible.

First of all, this policy, which affects the entire campus, was passed during the summer. That’s a deal breaker.

If we were to observe the average student’s participation in student government’s affairs, it’d be hard enough to find a significant amount of activity during the fall and spring semesters.

This is when said students are generally on University grounds, walking its sidewalks and breathing its air. And it’s at this time that they’d be most concerned with its well-being.

So it isn’t right for a policy as big as the smoking ban to be legitimized during summer break, when the overwhelming majority of its target audience is off site.

Worse yet is the lack of consistency pertaining to enforcement. One of the fundamental principles of any social contract is the presence of a standard, or at least a means of finding out when you’ve done something wrong. Our mystery policy has neither.

While it does a fine job of stating the obvious — that a cigarette’s not as beneficial to your body as a glass of orange juice might be — it doesn’t explicitly define the image it seeks to convey. Does a smoke free campus entail absolutely no smoking at all or only outside of its educational hubs? Are parking lots fair game?

Is there a fine associated with breaking the ban? If there is, how much would it cost? This is only a partial sampling of the grievances that arise in the stead of a tangible concept.

We’re the University of Houston — as opposed to some crosstown liberal arts den — where a similar agenda could be enacted with comparatively less opposition, we don’t have the luxury of a single demographic.

As one of the nation’s most diverse universities, we must cater to all types, which means smokers and non-smokers alike.

And the biggest problem with the ban might be just that: a lack of respect for the scope of the University, its population, and what they both supposedly stand for.

Bryan Washington is a sociology and english major and may be reached at [email protected].

Alex Caballero

The air quality in and around the University of Houston is about to get better. The University’s new tobacco-free policy is already underway. University stores have already stopped selling tobacco products. Smokers have had to find their fix elsewhere, and their whining has already started. But incoming freshmen won’t have to deal with walking through thick clouds of secondhand smoke outside of their classroom buildings or the annoying blockage of pedestrian traffic as the smokers “congregate” together.

No, freshmen will never experience those annoyances because, thanks in part to a Texas law requiring a tobacco ban to receive funding from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, UH will become a cleaner and healthier facility for non-smokers. The smokers on campus will have designated smoking areas, so it is not a complete ban, and having designated areas will make smoking more of a sociable vice for those who do.

However, the point of this tobacco-free policy is simply a matter of safety. There are people who don’t want to inhale the smoke but are forced to merely because of their proximity to those who do. It has been proven countless times that inhaling secondhand smoke is just as bad as, if not worse than, puffing away at a cigarette. Secondhand smoke can cause cancer, and discarded cigarette butts can lead to fires and litter. Why should healthy non-smokers put their own lives at risk for those who enjoy it? Smoking is a self-induced health hazard, and UH shouldn’t promote it.

Non-smokers who would otherwise not come in contact with smokers have to work their way through clouds of gray smoke to get to their classes. Having designated areas will decongest foot traffic and lungs alike. Also, every day the campus is littered with cigarette butts by those who are too cool to find a nearby trash can and just flick their butts to the ground. Those cigarette butts aren’t biodegradable and pollute the environment, not to mention they make the campus look dirty and unkempt.

This ban will not only assure the University gets a cut of the funding from CPRIT, but it will save the campus money in the long run. Smoke from cigarettes has been proven to damage buildings. In the long run, tuition prices could go down, and we could all benefit from that. Smoking is a bad habit that causes cancer, bad breath and bad skin, and with this ban UH is doing right by smokers and non-smokers alike.

Alex Caballero is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected].


  • Alex said “incoming freshmen won’t have to deal with walking through thick clouds of secondhand smoke outside of their classroom buildings or the annoying blockage of pedestrian traffic as the smokers “congregate” together.” This is assuming that people actually STOP smoking. I’ve already experienced this exact situation since school started, as recently as yesterday! So where is this mystical place you’re talking about? Because it’s not the University of Houston right now…

    Regardless of whether the new policy is right or wrong for our university, as Bryan stated the implantation seems non-existent. When did it even go into affect? It was passed over the summer, but when was the start date of the new rule? And what are the consequences? Can I report people who are smoking? I haven’t seen one sign that says “No Smoking AT ALL” just the remaining ones that say “Within 15 feet of building.” How is anyone supposed to even know this exists?

    To be honest, it seems like a halfhearted effort to me. UH wants the money from the grant, but doesn’t want to actually make their students stop smoking, so they’re making this rule but not actually doing anything about it.

    • Vicky, thank goodness that they can get the money from the grant without *actually* doing anything to make students stop smoking! That’s the best of both worlds. No one’s rights are violated (since “enforcement” in this sense means strictly that students are meant to police other students; i.e. there are no tickets or real repercussions), and yet the UH gets the money from CPRIT, which will help out tremendously.

      Honestly, even if smokers and their smoking are hugely annoying to you (and I infer that they are), do you honestly want to infringe on others’ rights through tickets or arrest? I’m sure there’s something *you* do that is offensive to *some* segment of the population; I can’t imagine you’d be thrilled if someone were crowing for you to be penalized for it. This is kind of the rhetoric behind pushes to re-illegalize abortion… it’s a practice that just ‘bothers’ some people, and they find it ‘distasteful’ and ‘offensive,’ and they want to eradicate it, regardless of how the people who want/need abortions feel.

      Ultimately, we should be very cautious in restricting freedoms simply because we find them off-putting or unpleasant. Your “right” to feel smugly superior and be free of annoyance is not worth sacrificing others’ *actual* rights to do and live as they please, as free people.

  • Respectfully, what the first author wrote is infactual.

    1. This was not a student government initiative – infact they amended the interim policy to include smoking areas for smokers.

    2. There is no signage regarding this policy becuase it has not been adopted yet – the policy is interim and won’t be implemented until early 2013.This policy was not “passed during the summer”.

    3. A smoking ban is actually both logical and possible – its already happend on 700 other campuses in the US including UT Austin.

    • Hi JJ. Hope this serves as an equally respectful response to your commentary:

      1. The student government’s initiative, or at least the one that I think you were referring to, was passed on July 7. The fact that it exists in itself, and that a discussion was taking place in opposition to the campus-wide ban, says a lot about the senate’s intentions: that they’re weren’t all in against the resolution. But the student government’s initiative was just that. An initiative. And an initiative isn’t the same thing as a school sanctioned ban (because the university won’t be receiving money for medical research without that sort of ultimatum- more on that later). A school that our SGA has a relatively active role in. So while our SGA might not explicitly approve the action, they haven’t taken the corresponding steps to combat it either. From there on out, perspective becomes more subjective than the ideal.

      2. On that same note, legislation was passed earlier this year, by the Cancer Prevention Research Institution in Texas, decreeing that a university seeking funding would have to appropriate said ban. To think that the University of Houston, THE major academic force in the medical capital of the world, is going to renege on such an opportunity would be highly impractical. So for all intensive purposes, the deal was done in January.

      3. And although a pretty significant amount of campuses have given the green light on similar sentiments, it’s not a statistic that pulls equal weight across the board. Funding, personnel, and location are factors, but among the most important is population, population, population. Comparing the University of Houston’s demographics to its counterpart’s in Austin would yield dissimilar, if not irreparably obtuse, results at best.

  • So basically I can’t smoke inside and I can’t smoke outside. I guess if I’m going to get in trouble either way, I’m going to light up in the nice climate controlled areas. They have more comfy seats inside anyway.

    Don’t like cigarettes? Then don’t smoke. Don’t like gay marriage? Then don’t get one. Don’t like abortions? Then don’t have one. Don’t like having freedoms taken away? Then don’t take them from other people.

  • As a smoker, I’m fine with having to practice my “filthy” habit in special places set aside just for me and my kind. No smoking inside, sure Ok, that make’s sense. However, you’re going to have a very hard time convincing me that I can’t do this outside, in the open air. I’m outside! There is literally everywhere else for you to go if you don’t want to be around my secondhand nicotine. Everywhere…that’s a big place. I get a little canister filled with cat litter, a trash can, and maybe a bench. I’d say it’s a fair trade. I’m willing to bet that the vast amounts of vehicles on this campus are doing worse things for your pink healthy lungs than my little sticks of pleasure. For those that wish to report smokers on campus, please be kind enough to let me know when you’re making the call. I’d like to have another one while I wait for my incarceration…but please stand up wind from me so your perfect healthy lungs aren’t ruined by my enjoyment and impending reprimand.

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