Smoking is a costly habit for the city’s university students, who have amassed £80,000 of fines in the past five years.

University of Brighton and the University of Sussex have handed out the penalties to students since 2008 – mostly because they had been caught having a crafty cigarette in their rooms.

Smoking inside dormitories in both universities is strictly prohibited, but that hasn’t stopped sneaky students tampering with fire equipment, covering smoke detectors and sparking up inside residences.

Students at the University of Brighton appear to be the most rebellious after amassing 552 individual fines totalling £66,576 since the 2008/2009 term.

They include numerous £200 charges for covering smoke detectors, £50 fines for getting caught smoking and £12.50 charges for being caught with “evidence of smoking”.

In comparison at the University of Sussex, getting caught covering a smoke detector set students back only £50 to £100 a time.

Sussex didn’t record fines in its halls of residence prior to the 2009/2010 term, but has since issued 150 individual penalty charges totalling £11,871 – mostly all for smoking-related misdemeanours.

Fines at both campuses have been issued for antisocial behaviour and damage to property.

Fire risks

Officials from both universities said safety and welfare of their students and staff was their primary concern.

A spokesman from the University of Brighton said: “The rules and regulations we have, especially those concerning fire risks, are designed specifically with this in mind and it is sometimes necessary to reinforce our messages with fines to stress how important these issues are.

“That said, fines are a last resort and we issue warnings before financial penalties are imposed. Also, the amount of fines must be seen in context. The university is home to more than 21,000 students and the fines concern only a very small percentage of the university population.”

A spokesman from the University of Sussex added: “The list of 150 fines issued over the past four years relates to the actions of a minority of students out of the thousands who have lived in our campus residences and who enjoyed their time here while abiding by our tenancy rules.”