Smokers deserve some space on campus

Smokers deserve some space on campus

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Jake Essman / The Arbiter

According to Kimberly Railey of the Christian Science Monitor in January of 2011, 466 colleges around the United States had total prohibition on smoking on their campuses. By January of 2012, that number jumped to 648.
Along with state and city smoking bans, it very quickly leads to the conclusion that smoking is becoming a social taboo, and smokers are quickly becoming one of the most discriminated social groups in North America.
During fall semester of 2009, the university pitched in to ban smoking across campus.
“It was talked about years prior to this date and the thinking behind it was to create a healthy campus for folks,” said Lauren Thomas, a health educator at Student Health Services. “As things have evolved in regards to smoking over the past several decades, more and more facilities and common areas were made to be smoke free, to help not only personal health, but community health, and environmental health.”
Such is a kindly message, but when confronted on the subject of students and employees who do not wish to quit, the sentiment is incredibly authoritarian.
“There are no smoking hubs, or any kind of places on campus where it is designated to smoke, it is completely smoke free,” Thomas said. “In terms of health promotion and health education, we hope to give people resources to quit, instead of to smoke.”
One does not have to walk far on campus to discover cigarette butts and trash litter by the sidewalks, gutters, the Greenbelt and in some unfortunate cases, the river, indicating the anti-smoking stance is rather ineffective.
In fact, Student Health Services holds a near celebratory event year called, “Campus Clean-up,” in which students wear gloves and gather discarded cigarette butts. The student who collects the most wins
a prize.
If Student Health Services feels the need to hold an entire event for the collection of cigarette butts, would that not suggest their “smoke free” stance is prompting a blatant disregard of the ordinance?
This reluctance to utilize smoking zones on campus is not totally shared around the country. Schools such as University of Washington and University of Georgia, have established designated smoking areas for students and employees, while also supporting cessation programs. Both schools document these programs on their websites.
These smoking zones are placed out of the way of common areas and are easily avoidable by non-smokers, while not being absurdly out of reach. These locations also contain the proper devices to disposal of cigarette butts, which certainly aids in the general cleanliness of the campus in general.
Also, designated smoking areas would have virtually no risk of causing second-hand smoke inhalation if non-smokers avoid these areas.
Smoking is treated responsibly by the federal government, stating generally tobacco is a substance which can only be consumed by individuals of a certain age, and state and private institutions may regulate smoking on their own private property, which is the policy allowing Boise State to ban smoking across its campus, but is it right?
The fact that smoking is held to those of 18 years of age and older would imply it is a legal adults’ decision whether or not to take a puff, and Boise State, an urban campus which is home to a wide diversity of cultures and social lifestyles, bans smoking and treats smokers like children deserving of a slap on the wrist.
Smokers are becoming a social sub-group that is discriminated against on many levels. The concept that someone could be excluded from campus for making a decision to smoke is a glaring violation of what in truth should be their rights.
The implementation of smoking zones around campus would bring about a higher level of satisfaction to all those involved.
Smokers will no longer feel victimized, non-smokers will not contract second hand smoke and the campus itself would experience a reduction in litter from spent cigarettes.