In opposition to the smoking ban
Picture the scene: Walking through a snow-clad Wash. U., a student desperately tries to ignite his lighter, his frostbitten fingers failing to strike the flint. As his lips turn blue and hypothermia starts to set in, he turns back to campus, unfairly thwarted in his attempts to enjoy a cigarette.
The health issues at the crux of the smoking ban cannot be denied. Research proves that second hand smoke can be responsible for cancer and cardiovascular disease. This year, a campus-wide smoking ban has been established, forcing smokers outside of campus whenever they need their nicotine fix. The ban has even been extended to our own cars!
However, as an exchange student from Europe, it seems peculiar to me that such a wide-open campus feels the need to send its smokers outside of campus boundaries. An indoor smoking ban is understandable, but with the winds blowing away most of the risks of second hand smoke, a campus-wide ban is an unnecessary and a
You cannot justify a campus-wide smoking ban by saying that you want to defend the innocent, upstanding non-smokers, because a reasonable compromise would be to have designated smoking areas that would enable smokers and non-smokers to coexist in harmony. It seems the real reason behind the ban is to pressure and stigmatize smokers, to push them away from the Wash. U. community. The pressure on freshmen to stop smoking will be overwhelming.
Those who defend the smoking ban reject any positive effect that tobacco may have. While it is seen as a drug in that it is addictive, it is not seen as having an effect on the nervous system. In other words, the cigarette has become a “death stick”, and its diverse properties have been reduced solely to the harm it causes to our health.
While this aspect of smoking is irrefutable, it completely leaves out the question of choice. This is further emphasized by the fact that the decision to smoke is seen only as the result of peer pressure and a will to look “cool.”
But tobacco is a nervous relaxant, a psychotropic drug. It was originally used by Indian shamans to reach a trance state. As such, it is odd that smoking is attracting such widespread disapproval at a time when the campaign for marijuana legislation is gaining weight. It’s almost as if people think it’s stupid to smoke a light drug and so had better go all out.
Many will no doubt argue that stopping smokers from harming their own health is a positive thing, a progressive crusade to find the new Holy Grail that is the totally sanitized world. Most people raised an incredulous eyebrow when they heard that the Canadian town of Halifax banned perfume on public buses, but the smoking ban is another step on the slippery slope towards total conformity. We live in a world where everything is dangerous and in which our lives must conform to the pre-approved path of our moral leaders. Don’t smoke, don’t have sex, drink only if you’re over 21—I like a world with asperities, and I want a world where people can have at least a semblance of freedom, where smokers don’t have to walk 15 minutes to their place of exile, rejected, unloved, unwanted.
So while enjoying your smoke-free campus, remember the cigarette wielder that you have ostracized.