Campus Tobacco Bans Are Un-American

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You trudge through the exit of the campus library after spending the entire night glued to a computer screen, cranking out a last minute, 20-page essay on the harmful effects of trigger warnings for your bullshit media ethics class. With the lingering pep of an extended release Adderall waning in your bloodstream, your brain tells you to reach into your pocket and pull out a pack of Camel Filters. Not only do you deserve to satiate your study drug-enhanced nicotine craving – you need to. But when you put the filter to your lips and spark up, someone coughs loudly in your direction. You look over to see a rotund girl in a “Healthy [insert school here]” t-shirt hunched over a balanced breakfast of Chick-Fil-A biscuit sandwiches and hash browns. She coughs at you again. Then, she motions towards a nearby “Tobacco Free Campus” sign.

You take a drag and continue to walk, pretending you didn’t see her. But she’s on a mission, driven by a newfound sense of authority harbored after heading a student-led charge to ban tobacco products from campus. She approaches you, presses one of her sausage fingers to your chest, and reminds you of the campus-wide ban.

Not wanting to make a scene, you extinguish the cigarette on the bottom of your shoe, tuck it in the pack, and relight it when out of her sight. But smokers shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders to enjoy their nicotine fixes. In fact, it’s downright un-American.

The trend of banning tobacco on college campuses is sweeping the nation. As of July 1, over 1,070 universities have implemented 100% smoke-free campuses. Two-thirds of those schools are 100% tobacco free. The number of campuses supporting the policy has doubled since 2012 when the Tobacco Free College Initiative was launched.

Punitive action for being caught by a campus official can range from a warning to a fine, or even mandatory anti-smoking classes.

Most initiatives were led by students striving to reduce the effects of second-hand smoke and promote a health conscious campus lifestyle. But both of those points are straight up bullshit.

First off, second hand smoke. Slate sifted through the data from the 2006 California Air Resources Board Study and a 2007 study from Stanford to discover the truth about secondhand smoke exposure. Smoking in an enclosed public space, like inside of a bar or a restaurant, can potentially yield negative effects for people within the range of 6.5 feet. Further than that, and the harm is reduced to “background effects” or “breathing close to regular air.”

From Slate:

Studies of secondhand smoke have indeed moved outdoors. Their findings support restrictions on lighting up within a few feet of other people. But they don’t warrant more than that.”

In other words, the effects of secondhand smoke cannot be used to justify a smoking ban that spans across every square-inch of campus property. Just give us a few strategically placed smokers’ oases and everybody wins. It certainly doesn’t justify a ban on smokeless tobacco, but they came up with a reason to prohibit that, too: it doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle.

Basically, colleges are now taking it upon themselves to instill in their students the habits of healthy living. But this isn’t elementary school we’re talking about. College students are grown adults. They should be permitted to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t harm others. Universities bear neither the responsibility nor the right to impose a restriction on something simply because it is bad for their personal health. Same reason they can’t stop (not so little) miss social warrior from housing Chick-Fil-A sandwiches all day (but if they played by their own rules of logic, fast food would be higher on the termination list than tobacco seeing as obesity kills more people).

I appreciate you caring about our health, universities, but your responsibilities lie solely with a student’s education. As Americans, we have the right to slowly but surely rot our gums and lungs from the inside out, throwing thousands of dollars and dozens of years of life down the drain in the process. Dammit, it’s what the founding fathers would have wanted.

[via Slate, Tobacco Free Campus]

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