News Ticker

The way we see it: Kick smoking in the butt

The goal of the program is to provide everyone on campus with cleaner air and grounds clear of cigarette butts. However, in practice the policy isn’t 100 percent effective. There are a few locations now where Boise State’s smoking population now congregates.



Boise State University officially became a smoke-free campus Aug. 17, 2009. To help reinforce the ban on tobacco smoke, a group called the Fresh Air Advocates was created to help spread the word and encourage tobacco smokers to kick the habit. Every now and then, the Fresh Air Advocates will set up a table on the Boise State Quad, complete with a water-cooler jug full of cigarette butts, free prizes and a trivia wheel.

Their ambition is admirable. The goal of the program is to provide everyone on campus with cleaner air and grounds clear of cigarette butts. However, in practice the policy isn’t terribly effective. There are a few locations now where Boise State’s smoking population congregates, such as at the foot of the much-used Friendship Bridge and other locations along the Green Belt that students frequent to relax and take in the scenery. Smokers who live on campus often step across the Green Belt to stand just outside of university grounds. Another popular spot is the area outside of the College of Western Idaho Culinary Arts Building.

The smoking ban causes a pooling effect. Because students cannot smoke on their way to class or outside the building of their choice, they congregate in areas that are convenient and accessible — where they think they can get away with it. This effect causes a higher concentration of second-hand smoke along the Green Belt, which used to be one of the nicest spots on campus. Now non-smokers cannot cross Friendship Bridge to get to the other side of the Boise River or pass behind the residence halls or the Education Building without inhaling a lung full of smoke.

The Fresh Air Policy does not provide designated smoking areas, nor does it provide ashtrays. Because there are no ashtrays, cigarette butts are dropped on the ground, making the river bank less pleasant for everyone. There are a few possible solutions to the problem.

The first is for smokers at BSU to quit smoking. However, this is not a reasonable expectation. Studies have found that nicotine can be harder to kick than cocaine or heroin. While quitting smoking is doable, it’s not fair to expect it from all fee-paying Boise State students and faculty who partake in the perfectly legal habit.

The other solution is to start enforcing the ban. The current problem is that the policy lacks teeth. Addressing the method of enforcement, the official Smoke-Free Campus frequently asked questions sheet states “Individuals observed smoking are to be reminded in a professional and courteous manner of the university policy. Boise State reserves the right to initiate disciplinary procedures against any individual found to be in continuous violation of this policy.”

The policy guidelines rely on students to police each other, which evidently is not very effective. In order to promote real, rapid change, the university is going to have to lay out some sort of standard punishment for smoking on campus, such as issuing citations.

Perhaps a better option is a compromise. The university should set up a few designated smoking areas in convenient locations, but out of the main thoroughfares. Smokers are going to smoke, so it seems pertinent to give them a place to do so where they won’t slow cross-campus travel or trash the prettiest area of campus. The simple fact that the majority of the Boise State population doesn’t approve of their habit doesn’t make smokers second-class citizens. However, it is not fair to Boise State students who are bothered or made ill by cigarette smoke. University policy should strive to meet the needs of the whole Boise State community, including smokers. Hopefully students will soon see cigarette butts in designated ash-trays instead of on the ground.

6 Comments on The way we see it: Kick smoking in the butt

  1. The solution, and one which I'm sure Mr. Polito would not agree with, would be to simply provide a few convenient, comfortable, indoor, and separately ventilated areas for smokers and their willing friends to gather to relax, study, and commune together while on campus. The only real argument against such provision is social engineering. Just as by shocking rats with electriticity you can condition them not to enjoy the sunny side of their cages, so by making students walk long distances and stand out in the cold and rain you can condition their brains to give up smoking.

    I don't think the students of Boise State or anywhere else deserve to be treated like rats.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

    • No one should be treated like a rat. Why can't people just get along? Share the same planet and stop putting people against people? If smokers were a color than their would be a new color to discriminate against. Racism is not nice. Those who smoke are not drug addicts, they may be addicted to nicotine but it doesn't make their minds go bonkers and incapable of knowing right from wrong, or to become criminals. This habit has been accept for a couple hundred years and anti smokers just expect them to STOP IT or act they act like hateful spiteful moron police. It's a horrible ban. One that should be changed immediately before this discrimination and segregation against law abiding citizens become the new addiction.

  2. As a non-smoker & employee of Boise State, I'm in total support of providing enclosed smoking area's for individuals who wish to smoke. This provides an area, which would enclose the air so allows freedom for both the smoker & non-smoker to co-exist.

  3. Did anyone even vote on the smoking ban? I have a few friends who were attending BSU when this went through. They claim they never saw a ballet. Maybe ballets were passed out at an "anti-smoker" rally? Hm, Maybe BSU figures if you don't support it, you don't vote. Just a thought that someone might want to investigate.

    I agree with the above post, it's all about social engineering. Does anyone really believe they have a right not to smell anything they don't like at the cost of individual liberties? Thank goodness BSU has a trillion dollar air purifier blowing down on the entire BSU campus to make sure no one gets a whiff of impure air. Oh wait, they don't!

    Does anyone pay attention to the odds of someone whiffing a tee bit of outside cigarette smoke and falling sickly to their knees for a week? The policy never was about the health of non-smokers. It has always been about smoking being a social pariah. It must be hard teaching students to work cooperatively in a career path when the university tells so many that it's okay to kick out anyone who has a habit another student doesn't approve of.

  4. Smoking is certainly not good for you and everyone knows it, still a lot of people still smoke. It’s an addiction that is hard to get away from but I know that there are ways to reduce it and actually quit too.

    • Gordon knows what is good for everyone. The master of the universe. This kind of thinking is what builds tension in societies, creates wars, marginalizes, discriminates and kills millions of people both physically and emotionally. Most of the blame comes from the media distributing it's massive prejudices all over the news and those who chose to byte into "get tough on smokers" campaign. This same prejudice approach can be applied to almost anything humans do. I know that floating the river isn't good for you, many have drowned doing it. I know that RVS, camping and driving are not good for you. Millions have died from it. Who really needs to go camping and burn useless gas in a recreational vehicle anyways? The thinking is flawed. The idea is first and foremost a reflection of POPULAR PREJUDICE.

Comments are closed.