Ask A Librarian

Tobacco Free Ahead of its Time

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 13th, 2014

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.


Since it is Fall Break here at WVU, we will take a break from showcasing the WVRHC’s great collections to bring you a WVU history factoid:  the current tobacco free campus policy is not the first attempt to eradicate tobacco use at WVU.  Most of us are aware the WVU’s campus has been tobacco free since 2013 .  Less well known is the temporary tobacco prohibition that occurred over 100 years earlier. 

West Virginia University President Jerome Hall Raymond

West Virginia University President Jerome Hall Raymond

Jerome Hall Raymond served as president and professor of economics and sociology at WVU from 1897 to 1901.  Born in 1869, he was only 28 when he started work at WVU.  He proved very popular with some members of the university community and not at all popular with others.  He was described as puritanical, working to prevent school balls, the singing of “Dixie,” and tobacco use.  Sometime during his tenure as president, he “issued an order that ‘no member of the faculty shall at any time, under any circumstances, use tobacco,’ and students were likewise forbidden.” The faculty disliked this mandate so much that one faculty member, “who had long since abandoned tobacco on account of his health, went downtown at once [and] stocked up with ‘Wheeling tobies’ and smoked them on any and all occasions thereafter” (Ambler’s A History of Education in West Virginia, p. 337-338).  Needless to say, the ban on tobacco use was not effective.

For more anecdotes about tobacco use at WVU, see West Virginia University, Symbol of Unity in a Sectionalized State.  For more information about a recent study linking smoking and breast cancer (in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month), check out “Study Links Smoking to Breast Cancer” or read the research article.  Remember to keep WVU tobacco free!



Ambler, Charles H. A History of Education in West Virginia: From Early Colonial Times to 1949. Huntington, West Virginia: Standard Print. & Pub. Co., 1951. Print.

Doherty, William T, and Festus P. Summers. West Virginia University, Symbol of Unity in a Sectionalized State. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1982. Print.

Comments are closed.