To smoke or not to smoke: UCL stages referendum to ban smoking on campus

Forget the Brexit referendum, this is the one that really counts


If you've seen UCLove recently, you'll know that there's a war being waged on campus about smoking.

The university has launched a referendum to decide whether or not to make UCL a smoke free space, following the lead of Imperial and (we really hate to say it) King's.

The proposed ban would prohibit smoking within 20 meters of all UCL premises.

Now, given the sheer number of smokers who congregate in Malet Place between lectures, you can imagine what a controversy this has sparked (see what we did there?)

"Yes" and "No" have issued their campaign statements and are ready to do battle.

The "Yes" campaign's main reason for banning smoking near campus is second-hand smoke and its associated health problems.

However, the "No" campaign has pointed out that any possible benefits of the ban would be nullified by the shockingly bad air quality of central London anyway, as well as offering the valid alternative of designated smoking areas.

After their main point of the dangers of second hand smoke, the "Yes" campaigns arguments become a little less watertight.

The "Yes" campaign claims that a smoking ban will improve inclusivity on campus but frankly, not going onto campus because of smokers sounds like a dodgy Thursday morning excuse for skipping lectures to nurse a horrible Loop hangover.

Also, it seems unlikely that a smoke free campus will solve UCL's real inclusivity problem of low numbers of BME and disadvantaged students.

The "No'" campaign also has some shaky arguments. One of their statements: "No one should leave campus between lectures to light a cigarette in shame," really seems to need to be accompanied by tiny violins.

They also claim that the ban would disenfranchise smokers, which seems slightly unlikely when the University is asking them to vote in a referendum.

Given the iPad debacle of previous election seasons, we think this issue might be debated for a while yet.

The referendum closes at midday Friday 8th March 2019, so be sure to have your say.