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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Uni considers early smoking ban
By Thomas McGuigan
BBC Scotland news website

Glasgow University union
Glasgow University union, where smoking could be banned from September
Glasgow University is to vote on introducing a blanket smoking ban throughout its campus from September.

It comes ahead of a Scotland-wide ban on smoking in all enclosed public places from next March.

The ban would extend to the two unions, departments, staff club, halls of residence and university vehicles.

Abertay and Napier universities are currently the only two in Scotland which have completely smoke-free campuses.

Other Scottish universities have a no-smoking ban in place in their buildings but permit smoking in their respective bars. Most have at least one bar which is no-smoking.

The University of St Andrews said all its residences would be made smoke-free from September.

Glasgow University said it felt it "appropriate to be ahead of legislators" by way of its blanket ban as well as the sale of tobacco on campus.

Niall Rowantree, president of the university union, said he was opposed to anything which threatened its finances or hampered the choice it could offer members and other students.

Jamie McHale, president of the Queen Margaret Union, said he believed pre-empting the nationwide ban would damage business and drive smokers elsewhere.

'Severe measure'

Students at the university appear split on the blanket ban.

Peter Speirs, 18, a non-smoker from Glasgow who is studying philosophy and law, said: "I think it's an excellent idea.

"There should be areas where non-smokers do not have to breathe in smoke.

"But I think to ban smoking in student accommodation is a bit harsh. I can avoid smoky atmospheres if I want to. So removing vending machines seems a severe measure.

Yumi Yokota
The university's smoking ban is a good thing, but a blanket ban is severe
Yumi Yokota

"If bar prices increase as a result of a ban that would be a tragedy."

Eve Hoggan, 23, from Livingston, said as a smoker she would go somewhere else if she was prevented from lighting up.

The computing science graduate said the QM union was always packed and she could not envisage it being completely smoke-free.

"There are always lots of students in the union," she said.

"An outright ban would have a major effect on business and the amount of people who choose to socialise there.

"I'm in favour of a partial ban, but to ban smoking in halls seems to be the wrong thing to do."

Sympathy for smokers

Non-smoker Emma Meldrum, a marketing graduate from Northern Ireland, said the habit bothered her sometimes.

The 22-year-old added: "I do feel sorry for smokers if they can't smoke anywhere from October. I think people will just go elsewhere to indulge their habit.

"If I'm out for a night out, I can get annoyed at someone smoking beside me, but I'm not in favour of a blanket ban."

Students at the University of Glasgow give their opinion on a campus-wide smoking ban to be introduced from September.

Some smokers felt making Glasgow University campus entirely smoke-free could help people kick the habit and discourage others from taking it up.

Patrick McNulty, from Baillieston, said he thought forcing him to stand outside to smoke could work in his favour.

"It could help me and others chat up girls in a more relaxed environment," the 22-year-old law student said.

He was unimpressed by those who argued that pub profits would slump when a smoking ban was introduced. "That's utter rubbish," he declared.

"Look at Ireland's example. A smoking ban is a good thing and won't necessarily damage business."

Japanese view

Yumi Yokota, originally from Japan and now studying in Glasgow, said Scotland was right to follow the example of some US states.

"A public smoking ban in some states has had a positive effect on people's health," the 35-year-old non-smoker said.

The linguistics student said her 55-year-old father had smoked for most of his adult life and had not suffered any ill health.

It's fantastic that smoking is to be banned. There is no evidence to suggest business at universities will be significantly hit by the ban
Melanie Ward

"But some people are more vulnerable to smoking-related diseases," she added.

"Japan still has a problem with smoking, but it's getting much better. My dad was recently complaining because he can't smoke on the train anymore.

"The university's smoking ban is a good thing, but a blanket ban is severe.

"There should always be an area for smokers to light a cigarette, provided it is well-ventilated."

Support for unions

The National Union of Students in Scotland said it welcomed moves to ban smoking from universities throughout the country.

Melanie Ward said: "We support all student unions who are in favour of introducing a smoking ban as most students do not want to sit in smoky atmospheres.

"Many of Scotland's universities already have at least one bar which is non-smoking so we see the ban as extending this policy rather than introducing it.

"It's fantastic that smoking is to be banned. There is no evidence to suggest business at universities will be significantly hit by the ban.

"At the end of the day, non-smoking students should not have to suffer."


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