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Tobacco Sale Ban For US Campus Shops

One of the world’s top universities is taking a smoking ban a step further this week, as Stanford University prohibits the sale of tobacco as well as smoking on campus.

Tobacco sale ban

Campus shops at the Californian university will have to end the sale of all tobacco products from 1 March.

Parts of the university already have an outdoor as well as indoor smoking ban.

The university says allowing tobacco sales is “inconsistent” with its work on promoting health.

It means that retail outlets, such as the students’ union and a petrol station, will have to stop selling tobacco – including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

Outdoor limits

This high-profile US university, which has been a launch pad for many Silicon Valley industries, is the latest US university to tighten its prohibitions on smoking.

The university, in California’s Bay Area, has nearly 700 buildings and occupies more than 8,000 acres. It regularly appears in the top fives of global university league tables.

The smoking rules at Stanford were updated three years ago so that, as well as an indoor smoking ban, it was not allowed within 9m of a building and was not allowed at outdoor athletic events.

There is a total ban on outdoor smoking at the university’s school of medicine.

The latest restrictions will mean that from next week it will no longer be possible to buy tobacco in any form at the university.

“The university is an advocate for the health and well-being of its entire community, and tobacco sales are inconsistent with our many programmes that support healthy habits and behaviours,” said assistant vice president, Susan Weinstein.

Professor Gerard Hastings of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at Stirling University says he is not aware of any similar sales bans at UK universities, but it is a “natural progression” from smoking bans.

As well as reducing the availability of cigarettes it also makes a symbolic statement, he says.

“We should be asking questions about anyone who wants to sell this stuff,” says Prof Hastings.

In the UK, the most recent debates about smoking on campus have been about whether e-cigarettes should be included in smoking bans.

But there are also rules about how close smoking is allowed to university buildings.

For example, Exeter University says that smoking should not take place within 5m of university buildings. However the university does permit smoking in staff residential accommodation.

Warwick bans smoking, including e-cigarettes, inside all its buildings and university vehicles and has a 3m exclusion zone from the entrance to buildings.

Sussex and Surrey universities allow smoking within 2m of buildings and Surrey also makes an exception for performers “where the artistic integrity of a performance makes it appropriate”.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, warned against Stanford “taking the war on tobacco to such extreme lengths”.

“It sends the message that American colleges are increasingly illiberal, preferring prohibition to education, which is bizarre,” he said.

“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.”

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