"One of these days, they'll ban outdoor smoking."
That was a rueful refrain heard a decade or so ago from smokers as they were banished from indoor public spaces and relegated to lawns and building stoops if they wanted to light up.
That was prophetic, as it turns out. It has come to pass many places. And by and large, it's been greeted as a welcome trend.
The Community College of Baltimore County is the latest higher education institution in the county to ban smoking anywhere on its three main campuses — Catonsville, Essex and Dundalk. CCBC had previously banned smoking within 25 feet of buildings.
It's not just a polite suggestion. Multiple violations could result in a $35 citation.
Along with the crackdown, there's a helping hand. CCBC, which has about 70,000 students, will offer smoking cessation classes in the fall.
CCBC officials said the college's faculty and staff will be able to attend these classes even during working hours.
This wider smoking ban on college campuses is not groundbreaking in the county. Towson University has had a similar prohibition in place since August 2010. Other campuses have less stringent rules — in 2008, theUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County, banned smoking within 20 feet of building openings — but colleges are increasingly embracing the no-smoking policies.
It's a trend that ought to be supported, and one that targets smokers at a time when they might be more able to kick the habit — and save themselves the expense and health risks of smoking.
Attitudes toward smoking have changed dramatically in the space of a few generations, largely the result of research that show the consequences of not just sucking smoke into your lungs, but also for being in the vicinity of someone doing it.
For example, according to the American Cancer Society, of the 160,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States, 3,400 are the result of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke.
Adults are still free to smoke. More and more, however, those who choose to puff and the toxic cloud around them will have to find a place away from the rest of us.