Banned on campus

One of the quiet ways smoking bans have spread across the United States is via bans on college campuses:

Colleges and universities have become the latest target of anti-smoking groups. While schools have long banned smoking indoors, the new bans are addressing outdoor space.

So far, more than 800 schools have banned smoking on campus, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. The list is dominated by medical schools and non-residential community colleges, although more and more residential colleges and universities are joining.

Encouraging schools to go smokefree is now official policy of the Department of Health and Human Services, which recently launched an initiative in collaboration with the University of Michigan to encourage campus bans on campus. The bans apply outdoors, which is a major inconvenience to smokers on sprawling campuses, potentially driving students to less safe perimeters. The measures are supposedly important for creating a healthy environment. Unfortunately, they seem to also create an environment of self-righteous attitudes and bad science:

“The CDC and surgeon general say there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke,” said Julien Guttman, a GWU public health graduate student who is part of the advocacy group Colonials for Clean Air. “No matter how much science we have to back up what we are saying, there will always be individuals who see this as a restriction on their freedom.”

Those crazy individuals! The idea that there is “no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke” is itself unscientific, a line of propaganda devoid of any measurement or relation of exposure to risk. If taken literally it would lead to absurdities like… well, like banning smoking in wide-open expanses of outdoor space.

Comments

  1. Jordan says:

    It’s always going to be tough to balance conflicting freedoms. While smokers may lament the loss of their freedom to smoke anywhere they want to outside, I enjoy the freedom to enjoy the outside air without having cigarette smoke wafting into my face.
    When on the way to classes at school, I would often end up walking paces behind someone enjoying a cigarette on the way to their own classes. I had three choices here. 1. Speed up and try to get past them. 2. Put up with the smoke and remain at a normal pace or 3. Stop and smell the roses and let the smoker get a good distance ahead before continuing on. I worried about this far less after smoking was outlawed on campus in all but designated areas.
    So who should carry the burden of inconvenience? I would say that if your habit has a tendency to offend or inconvenience others (health concerns aside), you should be the one made to be mindful and respectful of others’ space rather than the other way around.

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