The recent decision by the University to ban smoking on campus is deeply disappointing (‘U’ to ban smoking on campus, 04/21/2009). While it is certainly understandable to ban smoking inside University buildings and even within a certain distance of entrances, a blanket ban on outdoor smoking has no real justification.
The idea that the minute amount of secondhand smoke that students are exposed to outdoors is a serious health risk is laughable. I challenge the University administration to provide scientific evidence that such a move will improve health for non-smokers on campus.
If the real reason for the ban is the offensive odor, then the University should say so, and, in line with such a policy, ban other obnoxious behaviors like talking loudly about Greek life on a cell phone or biking on a crowded pedestrian walkway (note: I would not support these policies either).
With this said, I must add that I support the University’s move to provide subsidized nicotine patches and gum. No one should be held hostage by addiction.
I say all of this as someone who smokes only occasionally. Smoking tobacco is a legal behavior that’s been practiced for over a millennium. I’m not arguing that smoking is healthy, but if the University wants people to stop, it should at least be intellectually honest about this desire.