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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 21, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 42
Hopkins History: No Smoking

By Ross Jones
Special to The Gazette

Try to imagine the president of Johns Hopkins meeting with several senior officers of the university and hospital and each of them smoking. That was a common occurrence not too many years ago.

In fact, going back to the presidency of Milton Eisenhower, who was a heavy smoker, each Hopkins president, up to William Richardson, smoked. But when President Richardson took office, he decided it was time to make Hopkins campuses smoke-free. Perhaps he was motivated by his training in public health and his appointment, during his presidency, at the School of Hygiene and Public Health, as it was known before becoming the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

But President Richardson may have been surprised to know that much earlier, in November 1941, to be exact, the Academic Council at Homewood had voted to ban smoking "in any classroom, course laboratory or library at Homewood."

The action was taken not because smoking was known to lead to illnesses but for safety reasons. "Careless smokers," said the Johns Hopkins University Safety Committee, "have caused extra expense to the university, property damage and fires. For these reasons the Academic Council has passed a resolution recommending that smoking be prohibited in the classrooms of the university."

Still, the rules allowed lots of places to smoke: in seminar rooms, offices, research laboratories and restrooms, providing that safe conditions were met.

That all came to an end shortly after Richardson became president in July 1990. Within a relatively short time smoking was banned in university facilities.

This is part of an occasional series of historical pieces by Ross Jones, vice president and secretary emeritus. A 1953 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Jones returned in 1961 as assistant to President Milton S. Eisenhower and was a close aide to six of the university's 13 presidents.


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