Sidney Coleman smoked during lectures he gave. Was this universally acceptable behavior at the time? When did smoking during lectures become inappropriate?

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    I had a famous visiting French professor smoke during his lively lectures ca. 1994. As he tended to walk up to students and sit on the desks next to them, he pretty much smoked into everyone’s face. It had long been illegal at that point, but no one cared. Feb 7, 2021 at 13:08
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    I fail to understand why this question is off-topic. It asks about "smoking during lectures".
    – Nobody
    Feb 7, 2021 at 13:16
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    @scaaahu This question really depends on when a specific country approved a law against smoking in public places or workplaces, I'm not sure it can be "universally" answered. In my country it was in 2003. Feb 7, 2021 at 13:29
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    @MassimoOrtolano The asker asks about acceptable behavior/ inappropriate, not "illegal". The question may be too broad. But, why off-topic?
    – Nobody
    Feb 7, 2021 at 13:44
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    @Buffy: By that argument, wouldn’t any historical question be off-topic - such as, what’s the history of qualifying exams? :) Feb 7, 2021 at 13:52

1 Answer 1


Some older universities have lecture theatres of mainly timber construction. At those places, I'd suggest it was always inappropriate. Otherwise, I'd say it became inappropriate as soon as there was clear evidence in the peer-reviewed literature that passive smoking has serious deleterious health effects on otherwise healthy adults. A quick Google Scholar date-range search suggests that this happened between about 1979 and 1981.

The "universally accepted" half of the question, of course, may be a very different matter.

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