ABOUT THE QUICK TAKE
AU is considering a ban on smoking cigarettes on campus. Yet many have claimed that this is an unnecessarily paternalistic measure, and that enforcing DC’s 25 foot smoke-free radius around building would be sufficient. Is the ban needed? Our quick take columnists weigh in.
By Rachel Lomot
I was surprised at the beginning of this year when I walked out of Anderson and hit a wall of smoke in the LA Quad. For some reason I wasn’t expecting American to be a school with lots of smokers. Maybe my tour was at a time when no one was smoking, maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I missed the warning that I would be inhaling second-hand smoke every time I walk outside.
I’ve heard the argument that the proposed smoking ban on campus denies students ability to choose how they want to live their life. But flip the argument around – I cannot choose to avoid inhaling the second-hand smoke when it is right there in front of me. So either way, a group of people are denied some aspect of control.
I won’t lie – over my two semesters here at AU I have gotten very used to cigarette smoke around the campus. It has become somewhat normal. When this debate came out I questioned the point of it, why are we debating this if people will just get used to the smoke?
So I did some research. According to the National Cancer Institute there are 250 chemicals in second-hand smoke known to be harmful and approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year among adult nonsmokers in the United States as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.
When I told my friend these facts she replied that the small amount of second-hand smoke we are exposed to amount to nothing. So I did some more research. I found that even small amounts of second-hand smoke can be detrimental to my health. Personally, I plan to live a long-healthy life and I think it is kind of unfair that other students are impeding on this.
But I know that smoking is a hard habit to quit. You cannot just stop. Cigarettes are addictive. I know many people who have spent years trying to quit. So I think it is unfair to tell smokers on campus that they can’t smoke, because they live here too. And in order to be able to quit it has to be their decision. If they don’t want to quit they should not be forced to.
A solution to our mutual control problem may be that smokers can simply smoke elsewhere. Our campus could designate certain areas “smoking areas.” I have asked a few smokers and all of them had no problem with this idea. So perfect solution – I do not have to breathe in the smoke as I walk out my building and smokers are free to smoke, but just in restricted areas.
By Will Beaudouin
Upon first hearing the news that AU was considering a campus wide smoking ban, I had mixed feelings. As a smoker, I can’t help but to feel as though AU administrators are attempting to legislate a lifestyle decision. At the same time, I recognize the concerns regarding secondhand smoke and I understand that many students may simply find smoking distasteful. In my eyes, the simplest solution would be to enforce the law prohibiting smoking 25-feet from doorways or perhaps even designating specific areas of the campus—such as the quad—smoke-free.
There’s already a well-established discourse regarding these issues and any potential solutions; however, one aspect of any potential ban that’s been glossed over is it’s social impact. Ultimately, one of the most compelling elements of smoking is the shared experience it brings about. I’ve met innumerable friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have encountered if I weren’t a smoker. This communal draw is perhaps the biggest reason that I continue to smoke. That’s not to say smoking is synonymous with popularity, but in my personal experience, many of my friendships began with a bummed Marlboro. I can rattle off half a dozen people I’ve met at AU through smoking, and, ultimately, that’s why I couldn’t possibly support a campus wide smoking ban. Yes, this reasoning is selfish, but I can’t be the only smoker who recognizes the positive effects smoking has had on my personal life. Is this worth the deleterious, long-term health effects? Perhaps I’m a fool, but I’m inclined to say yes.
It’s very true that smokers are a minority, and if AU were to live up to its oft-promoted democratic billing then the campus would almost certainly be smoke-free. Ultimately, if that’s what the AU community desires, that’s OK. It’s hard to argue with the positive environmental and economic impacts it would bring about. But, personally? I’ll be bummed.