Stanford University halts tobacco sales on campus - will UK Universities follow?
25th February 2014
stanfordOne of the world’s leading Universities is leading by example and clamping down on smoking by banning sale of cigarettes in addition to smoking on campus. Stanford University in California’s Bay Area will force its campus shops to cease the sale of all tobacco products from 1 March, arguing that the sale of tobacco does not sit well with its work on the promotion of healthy living. The high-profile university boasts almost 700 buildings and spans more than 8,000 acres. It often makes an appearance in the top 5 global university league tables and now joins other universities in the US to come down heavy on smoking. Stanford’s smoking rules were given an overhaul three years ago forbidding smoking inside any building and not within a 9m distance of a building, in addition to being banned at outdoor athletic events. Currently there is already a complete ban on outdoor smoking at the university's school of medicine but the new rules mean next week that students cannot obtain any kind of tobacco product from vendors at convenience stores at the Valero gas station and Tresidder Union on campus. Susan Weinstein, assistant vice president for business development and responsible for overseeing the vendors, says the new tougher rules have been in the pipeline for many months. ”The university is an advocate for the health and well-being of its entire community, and tobacco sales are inconsistent with our many programs that support healthy habits and behaviours,” Ms. Weinstein commented to the school’s daily email newsletter, the Stanford Report. According to recent report made available by the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, there are an estimated 1,182 college campuses in the US that now operate with a 100% smoke-free policy. This is almost double the number in 2011 and it is believe that of the 1,182 smoke-free campuses, 811 are even completely tobacco-free. In recent times electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have surged in popularity across the US and here in the UK, creating a concern as to whether e-cigarettes are merely used as a smoking cessation method, or are being used as a gateway into smoking much more dangerous tobacco cigarettes. However, Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, criticised Stanford for “taking the war on tobacco to such extreme lengths”. He said: "It sends the message that American colleges are increasingly illiberal, preferring prohibition to education, which is bizarre. If they won't defend people's right to buy a legal product it also calls into question their commitment to defend other rights like freedom of speech or assembly. Banning the sale of tobacco won't stop students smoking. It could make it cooler because the university is effectively driving it underground.”