Campus smoking ban would launch petty crusade against bad habits
Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010 21:04
The possibility of a campus smoking ban has received recent attention. Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee expressed support for it during his quarterly visit with The Lantern two weeks ago. It was also an issue that separated the campaigns running in the USG election.
Gee said he would support and welcome a smoking ban to campus, though he admitted it is not his top priority. So it is unclear how close OSU is to becoming a tobacco-free campus. But regardless of the imminence, this initiative should be opposed and rejected.
Banning smoking on campus would be a radical solution to a manageable problem. Perhaps I have weak senses or just like the smell, but I do not find the problem to be that bad in the first place. I can understand how someone puffing on a cigarette just outside an open classroom window might be unpleasant. But to complain about someone smoking on a sidewalk and the agony suffered by surrounding non-smokers is an exaggeration.
It is reasonable to expect give-and-take from both sides, preferably in which the individual parties can referee themselves. Smokers should exhibit the courtesy of not smoking just outside doors and windows. Likewise, non-smokers must concede that people have the right to smoke.
Too often, individuals favor restrictions that burden "the other guy" until, some day, they find themselves in the regulatory crosshairs. Then they oppose the regulations, but it is often too late because there are no more "other guys" backing them up.
Imagine if the university banned chewing gum on campus because it wreaks havoc on the sidewalks. Gum-chewers would be outraged, but naturally they could argue that smoking is a much bigger problem and that the university should ban smoking before banning gum.
This would force the university to evaluate its priorities and, in all likelihood, gum would be saved. But if smoking on campus had already been banned, the gum-chewers would not have that argument at their disposal. Basically, students, to avoid further infringement, should try to keep the argument on the campus vs. smoking level.
Gee said "smoking is an irresponsible habit, and I would hope that anyone who does it would stop." No one is arguing that, but if our objective is eliminating bad habits, then why stop with cigarettes? Fast food, pop, speedy bikers, flip-flops and iPods can also be dangerous. Why don't we ban those things?
Proponents of the ban might argue that smoking is the most harmful habit among students. But if smoking was banned, what then becomes the most dangerous habit and, thus, the next target?
Smoking is often targeted because it is the easiest thing to pick on. Defending the act of smoking seems heinous and inhumane and it is difficult to oppose smoking bans completely without sounding like an advocate.
I am not a smoker and, therefore, am neither defending nor promoting the activity. I am simply supporting an individual's right to smoke, which is not something that should be taken away from students or faculty.
It is difficult to know how serious the possibility of this ban is, but it should be opposed every step of the way until it is defeated.