University of Houston Bans Smoking On Campus

The University of Houston is the most recent campus to enact a complete ban on smoking and tobacco use.

The tobacco-free policy goes into effect on the UH Campus on June 1.

"We do not require anyone to quit smoking."

That's UH Assistant Vice President for Health Initiatives Kathryn Peek.

She says the university will initially have 20 designated tobacco-use areas scattered across campus for staff and students. Those smoking areas will be in effect for the first 12 months of the new policy and will likely be phased out next summer.

"We do know this is going to be inconvenient for a small percent of our campus and we do want to help them get to the point where they can get through the day comfortably."

Peek says the policy started as a student-led initiative, but was accelerated by a new rule enacted last year at the state level. Texas schools that get grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT, must enact a smoking ban to maintain their funding.

"Then early 2012 the provost of the institution formed a tobacco task force to develop this new policy that would protect known health risks for members of the UH community, while respecting individual rights and at the same time make sure we're compliant with the research agencies that require a tobacco-free environment."

The University of Houston is not the first Texas college to go tobacco-free. Rice University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech all have bans on smoking, although not all of them are as comprehensive as the UH policy.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...