Tom Kacich: Seeds of UI's smoking ban sown in the 1960s

Tom Kacich: Seeds of UI's smoking ban sown in the 1960s

Irving Dilliard was about 50 years ahead of his time.

Or maybe the one-time member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees was 73 years behind the times.

Fifty years ago this week, the Collinsville Democrat — a 1927 UI grad and former award-winning editorial page editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — surprised his board colleagues by urging them to ban cigarette vending machines on campus.

"I am certain we will do this (ban the sale of cigarettes) under public health pressure," he told the board. "I would rather see us do it two years after the surgeon general's report rather than three or four."

His fellow trustees were unmoved. A story in The News-Gazette noted that "several" of them "had full ashtrays before them" as the debate went on, and that the university provided free cigarettes for all trustees at meetings, although the pack in front of Dilliard was unopened. He said he had quit smoking in high school.

Other trustees were apparently dumbfounded by the suggestion, even though the faculty at the UI's medical center in Chicago had two years earlier voted to ban cigarette vending machines at their research and hospital facilities.

A similar effort had been attempted at the UI's old Navy Pier campus.

UI President David D. Henry responded to Dilliard's surprise idea by suggesting more study, saying that it would a "great mistake" to enact the policy without any recommendations from the university administration. Dilliard relented and the trustees adopted a compromise resolution to study the "University's ownership, rental and operation of cigarette vending machines."

Four months later, the trustees voted 8-2 to continue the UI's ownership of cigarette machines in residence halls and the leasing of them in other campus buildings. Trustee Wayne Johnston argued that the UI did not overly emphasize the use of cigarettes, noting that the Daily Illini, radio station WILL and football programs did not carry advertising for cigarettes.

But Dilliard insisted that educational institutions "need to get out of the business of stimulating cigarette addiction. I want to publicly dissociate myself from this dangerous practice."

'Matter of life and death'

In February 1967, at the end of his six-year term on the UI board, Dilliard made a final appeal.

"Mr. President, it is now approximately 20 months since I introduced a motion to get the University of Illinois out of the cigarette-pushing business. In that time, according to conservative medical statistics, more than 500 cigarette smokers have died every day of lung cancer in the United States," he said. "Imagine the outcry if we were losing that many lives in Vietnam or on the highways."

Dilliard said he did not intend to ban smoking.

"Let anyone buy his cigarettes by the pack, carton, case or carload, but buy them at a commercial store and not at a tax-supported state university which is under no urgency to compete with private, profit-making enterprise in these sales," he said. "Mr. President, this is truly a matter of life or death here for uncounted thousands of University of Illinois students. Lives are at stake here."

It took only 49 years for Dilliard, who died in 2002 at the age of 97, to achieve his goal, and a lot more. In January 2014, the Urbana campus became entirely smoke-free. The ban covers even private cars parked on campus streets or in campus parking lots. It also prohibits smoking marijuana.

Ironically, the relatively new no-smoking policy is not unlike one that was enacted 123 years ago.

"Smoking is not permitted in any of the public buildings of the University," said a notice in the report of the university regent (president) in September 1892.

By 1906, the ban was extended to the steps of university buildings, to the "Senior Bench" and to the Halfway House, a streetcar stop. The student newspaper, the Illini, approved, noting that the UI didn't have insurance on its buildings and that a fire could be inconvenient and expensive.

In a nod to chivalry, it added that there were "seven or eight hundred young women in our midst. Courtesy requires that they be not obliged to walk through a haze of tobacco smoke when passing the Senior Bench or inhale the fumes of a pipe or cigarette while waiting for a car."

Goal: 'Voluntary compliance'

In later rulings, the council of administration extended the smoking ban to Springfield Avenue on the north, to the new Agriculture and Commerce buildings on the south, Mathews Avenue on the east and Sixth Street on the west. A 1922 letter to the Daily Illini decried cigarette stubs that littered the gutters across the street from the campus.

The smoking ban began to break down in the 1930s when UI President Harry Woodburn Chase said professors could smoke in their offices. By the 1960s, it was permitted almost everywhere on campus, even in some classrooms and at meetings of the board of trustees.

That's when Dilliard began his fight against the status quo. A decade after his death, his argument finally won out.

"By eliminating secondhand smoke, the Urbana campus underscores its commitment to providing a healthy learning environment for students and a healthy work environment for faculty and staff," says a notice on the UI's "Smoke-Free Campus" website.

In recent weeks, UI police have begun issuing citations for violations of the statewide Smoke-Free Campus Act. On the UI campus, 34 people have been issued citations in the last three to four weeks — since citation forms were printed — for violations of the law, said Skip Frost, deputy chief of the UI Police Department.

"All but one of them was a first offense, which is just a written warning," Frost said. One was a second offense, for which the penalty is a $25 fine, which can be waived with completion of an educational video program.

"We're not doing this as a revenue generator," said Frost, a former smoker. "We fully realize what the public perception of this is. We don't make these rules, but we need to enforce them. What we really want is voluntary compliance."

Most of the violators of the smoke-free campus policy are students, Frost noted, in residence halls or libraries.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 217-351-5221 or

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jacklisterio wrote on September 23, 2015 at 10:09 am
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Mr Irving was never ahead of his tmehe was trying to ressurect his time again as we had tobacco prohibition up into the 1920s with utah repealing their smoking ban in 1923 then we got Alcohol Prohibition. If you think Mr Irving is some kind of hero he isnt he is more like past FAILED PROHIBIITONISTS and the Nazis with theyre own anti smoking laws and policies. Even Obama is pushing college smoking bans via force or blackmale if you dont do it by losing grants and government contracts to your college.


Colleges being forced to go smokefree by Obama Administration The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced an initiative to ban smoking from college campuses last month. This is part of the HHS goal to create a society free of tobacco-related disease and death, according to their action plan released by the HHS in 2010. Colleges who fail to enact campus-wide smoking bans and other tobacco-free policies may soon face the loss of grants and contracts from the HHS, according to the plan. Western receives grants through a subdivision of the HHS called the National Institutes of Health, Acting Vice Provost for Research Kathleen Kitto said.




jacklisterio wrote on September 23, 2015 at 10:09 am
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..Heres a time line starting in 1900,dont be surprised to see the same thing playing out today nearly 100 years later. 1901: REGULATION: Strong anti-cigarette activity in 43 of the 45 states. "Only Wyoming and Louisiana had paid no attention to the cigarette controversy, while the other forty-three states either already had anti-cigarette laws on the books or were considering new or tougher anti-cigarette laws, or were the scenes of heavy anti- cigarette activity" (Dillow, 1981:10). 1904: New York: A judge sends a woman is sent to jail for 30 days for smoking in front of her children. 1904: New York City. A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in an automobile. "You can't do that on Fifth Avenue," the arresting officer says. 1907: Business owners are refusing to hire smokers. On August 8, the New York Times writes: "Business ... is doing what all the anti-cigarette specialists could not do." 1917: SMOKEFREE: Tobacco control laws have fallen, including smoking bans in numerous cities, and the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho and Tennessee. 1937: hitler institutes laws against smoking.This one you can google. ..

jacklisterio wrote on September 23, 2015 at 10:09 am
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....Well a little history lesson is now needed I can see: Look who first invented the Passive smoking Fraud Hitler's Anti-Tobacco Campaign One particularly vile individual, Karl Astel -- upstanding president of Jena University, poisonous anti-Semite, euthanasia fanatic, SS officer, war criminal and tobacco-free Germany enthusiast -- liked to walk up to smokers and tear cigarettes from their unsuspecting mouths. (He committed suicide when the war ended, more through disappointment than fear of hanging.) It comes as little surprise to discover that the phrase "passive smoking" (Passivrauchen) was coined not by contemporary American admen, but by Fritz Lickint, the author of the magisterial 1100-page Tabak und Organismus ("Tobacco and the Organism"), which was produced in collaboration with the German AntiTobacco League. That's fine company are so called public health depts. keep with ehh! History can shed so much lite on todays own movement it just amazes the mind........... Hitler Youth had anti-smoking patrols all over Germany, outside movie houses and in entertainment areas, sports fields etc., and smoking was strictly forbidden to these millions of German youth growing up under Hitler.”......

gene wrote on September 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm

A little history lesson:

Irving Dilliard was a lieutenant corporal in WWII; he was awarded a Bronze Star, ie, distinguished service in a combat zone.

But no matter how hard he physically fought, no matter how close he came to death, no matter how great his sacrifice for his country in fighting Nazism--if he does something harleyrider doesn't like, why, he's a Nazi(!)

The lesson here is: If you can't argue the science--SMEAR.

PS: Dilliard wrote many books, and was considered not just a Constitutional expert, but one of the finest journalists ever to cover the Supreme Court.