‘Pry my Marlboro Golds from my cold, dead hands’: Students react to new no-smoking signs

‘Banning smoking is the first step to a totalitarian one party state, trust me’

A space once teaming with students congregating for a cigarette or vape-break, the steps up to the Arts and Social Sciences Library are now desolate, replaced by a swarm of no smoking symbols. And it’s not the only spot.

Since the start of term new signs have been put in place to discourage students from smoking in popular spots around campus, including the areas outside Senate House and the ASS.

With the government set prohibit children who are 14 or younger from ever legally purchasing cigarettes in England, The Bristol Tab spoke to students to find out their thoughts on the reinforced restrictions on smoking outdoors across uni.

Predictably, there were some negative responses. Max*, a second-year biomed student, claimed the new signs are “discriminatory against smokers”, and went on to say that smokers would be “excluded socially” and “late for class” as a result.

Others responded in a similarly disgruntled fashion. Theo*, a third-year classics student, said: “Students are old enough to smoke, this isn’t school” and “exams are stressful enough, let me have my cig in peace.”

Some took it further, with Oscar*, a third-year english student, exclaiming: “[Evelyn] Welch can pry my Marlboro Golds from my cold, dead hands” and that “banning smoking is the first step to a totalitarian one party state, trust me”.

Frustrated at no longer being able to smoke outside Senate House, Annie* replied: “Senate without amber leaf is not very skins, 2014 Tumblr, ultraviolence, grunge core”.

Despite the strength of opinion in objection to the ban, the topic has sparked controversy; 55 per cent of the 1,377 students polled thought that restricting smoking outdoors was unfair, while the other 45 per cent believed the restrictions to be justified.

Some of those in support of the ban viewed it as a “great decision”, making entrances to uni buildings “more accessible”.

In the words of Ava*, a first-year chemistry student: “Smoking is not a human right” and “people don’t want to be second- hand inhaling.” Another told The Tab: “If you are young and smoking, get help”.

Joe, a third-year economics student, suggested alternative “free-standing shelters” to incentivise smokers to move away from entrances.

On the new signage, when approached for comment the university explained that it was erected to reinforce the smoking policy that has existed since 2015. The policy outlines: “The ban on smoking is extended to include the areas immediately outside all buildings and windows within the curtilage of university property where tobacco smoke could cause a nuisance to occupants.”

The deterrents around the university come as the government recently announced their plan to curb smoking amongst young people, hoping to almost completely phase out young smokers by 2040.

In a bid to create the first “smoke-free generation”, proposed new legislation will make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1st January 2009 to be sold tobacco products – effectively raising the legal smoking age by a year each year until it applies to the whole population and, in theory, makes smoking obsolete.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seems confident in this approach: “I want to build a better and brighter future for our children, so that’s why I want to stamp out smoking for good. These changes will mean our kids will never be able to buy a cigarette, preventing them getting hooked and protecting their health both now and in the future.”

*Names have been changed for anonymity.

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