Letter to the Editor

Student says university officials should ban tobacco on campus due to substance’s health effects

On Sept. 30, The Daily Orange Editorial Board published its opinion on the prospect of a campus-wide ban on tobacco use: there should not be one.  Allow me to open up the other side of the argument.

The DOEB recognized that the “smell of cigarette smoke is a nuisance to many on campus,” but called it a “minor inconvenience” compared to the effect a ban would have on tobacco users.  I would agree with this point, if all that I smelled was indeed just a smell.

As surely the entire campus community knows, the smell of tobacco smoke carries more than 250 toxins and chemicals, dangerous to all those who take it in.  The National Institutes of Health considers secondhand smoke a known human carcinogen by itself.  This “minor inconvenience” is deadly, killing more than 38,000 people in the U.S. every year.

Regarding the idea that a ban on tobacco use is a limit of a smoker’s freedom, I ask, what about the freedom of non-smokers to choose not to have their lives influenced by secondhand smoke?  The university is allowing other members of my community to harm me in ways that I have chosen to not participate in.

Yes, smoking is a lifestyle choice, and yes, a ban does have impacts on the freedom of smokers.  However, smoking is not always a private action.  It is not like eating a sandwich, or wearing sunglasses.  Those acts have no bearing on the lives of others.  Smoking affects people around the smoker, whether or not the smoker wants to do so or not.

However, I recognize what smoking is to a smoker and that is why I think the university needs to make a compromise between those who wish to see smoking prohibited and those who want to be able to smoke anywhere.  Designated smoking areas, which are convenient for smokers, should be created around campus.

There is a right path for the university to take and it is not what the DOEB suggested.  The rights of smokers do not overpower the rights of non-smokers and vice versa.  But the status quo is a complete domination of a minority over a majority.  The university cannot stand by and let the rights of non-smokers be trampled on, let their health be negatively impacted and let its grounds be an example of a backward model.

Jason Ashley

Junior Political Science, International Relations and Citizenship and Civic Engagement Student

 

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