Gone are the days when newscasters smoked on air and the Flinstones told children why Winstons were the best; smokers are modern-day pariahs, trying to find a place to light up in a world that doesn’t accept them.
Tobacco-free campuses are on the rise in the U.S. Many students nationwide are completely barred from smoking on university property, even outside. And if SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has her way, Binghamton University could be next.
While we applaud her for taking initiative to help make our campus a healthier place to be, we don’t think that a total ban is the necessary course of action.
Binghamton already regulates smoking with the 25-feet rule — an outright ban on every SUNY campus isn’t fair to those who choose to smoke. Instead of a ban, why not enforce the 25-feet rule? Have you ever seen anybody asked to move for being too close to a building? Neither have we. Rather than condemn the smokers to months of agitation, why not develop more rules to protect the non-smokers. We need more smokers’ poles across campus, and we need to bolt them down so those wily smokers won’t keep moving back to the buildings. This way, the people who choose to poison themselves are encouraged to respect the law and those who don’t want to be exposed to smoke don’t have to suck it in every time they walk into their dorm.
But SUNY says their overall goal is to curb smoking and better educate practicing smokers. So if education is the ultimate end, then why not simply educate smokers?
When we go to college, we’re told we need to be adults, so why not treat us as adults? We are prepared for the real world through our college education. Teach us about the harms of smoking, if that’s really the ultimate goal, and let us make the decision. And respect that decision. A college should be responsible for educating and discouraging smokers, not barring something legal that they may choose to do.
Professors have a right to step outside the Glenn G. Bartle Library and grab a quick smoke with some of their colleagues. Sodexo workers have a right to a smoke break after having to deal with ravenous students. And people who live on campus have the right to smoke where they live. There is nowhere else for on-campus students to go smoke if it is banned on campus.
Encouraging the campus community to stop smoking is an admirable goal, but the means do not justify the ends.