With winter months steadily approaching,
smokers on campus are once again bracing themselves for the long
hours spent outside in the blistering Michigan cold. After the
smoking ban passed last year by the Residence Halls Association and
endorsed by University Health Services, there are no University
buildings and only a handful of bars and coffee shops around campus
where smoking is permitted. Simply stated, if you are a smoker,
unless you are 21 and a frequenter of local bars, you are left shut
out into the cold – frostbitten hands and all.

The latest obstruction to smokers’ civil liberties on college
campuses can be found in new policies banning smoking within 30
feet of entrances to campus buildings, such as the Outdoor Smoking
Ban passed by Indiana University at the beginning of this academic
year. The University of Michigan’s policy dictates that smokers who
choose to smoke outside must be located a “reasonable distance”
from any building.

Since the majority of University freshmen are both under 21 and
occupants of residence halls, a new smoking ban, such as that
recently passed at Indiana, would affect this population the most.
Forced to gather in clusters outside of their residence halls
wearing layers befitting an Polartec advertisement geared at
audiences in Siberia, students already experiencing the major
adjustments befitting a new living environment will have to deal
with yet another inconvenience and impediment to their supposed
newfound freedom.

The University’s current policies requiring smokers to remain a
“reasonable distance” from entrances of campus buildings make
sense. They allow for an individual’s analysis and judgment of his
or her particular circumstances and help to foster an environment
of mutual trust and respect between all.

The University should not adopt this type of new policy and
infringe on not only the rights of smokers, but the rights of the
whole University community.

Although there has recently been a steady flow of complaints
coming from non-smokers around the University regarding the
tendencies of smokers to gather near entrances to campus buildings
and obstruct their paths by contaminating their clean air, these
criticisms are both futile as well as regressive.

In addition, most University-sanctioned ashtrays just happen to
be permanently affixed to these aforementioned entryways, enticing
the more environmentally sound of the smoking community to cluster
around them, and by association, the entryways as well.

The alternative of shifting this cluster of smokers farther away
from these entrances and closer to the no-man’s-land abyss between,
for example, Angell Hall and Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, would
most likely create even more hostility and tension between these
two groups, and the alternative of further limiting the smokers’
rights contradicts most of the fundamental freedoms that we hold as
students at this University.


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