Auburn's new smoking ban, which doesn’t take affect until the 2012 fall semester, is source of contention for us. We actually agree with both sides of the argument on most of their talking points.
The scientific fact is that smoking is bad for your health, obviously, and secondhand smoke can, in large quantities, cause serious health issues. Most smokers are willing to admit that their habit is potentially dangerous to themselves and others.
However, smoking is not an illegal activity and its detrimental consequences are typically not immediate. It’s also a personal choice. If alcohol and the health hazards that can result from drinking it were highlighted and campaigned against in the same fashion as anti-tobacco crusaders bash smoking, people would be fighting for a second prohibition.
Just because you don't like the smell of smoke doesn't mean you should ban it outright. For people with health problems, like asthma, having a smoke-free environment is necessary, and that is completely understandable. That's why we suggest designated smoking areas.
These smoker-friendly havens can be away from doors and areas of high foot traffic. We favor this simple solution instead of forcing hundreds of student and faculty smokers to quit.
Spending money on cessation programs and increasing security presence to enforce this unfair ban is not a practical solution.
In fact, how does the University plan to enforce the ban? Right now, it's not clear how smoking on campus will be dealt with.
Certainly they won't have any more security guards with an over-zealous sense of campus justice tooling around on their ridiculous Segways. We sincerely hope they wouldn't spend valuable tuition dollars on such a ludicrous plan.
Most colleges that have smoking bans, such as Faulkner University in Montgomery, hand out tickets to wrongdoers. Penalties for noncompliance can go upwards of $100 for repeat offenders.
We are all for a compromise for this situation. We don't see a need to deprive smokers of something that makes them happy as long they do it away from certain areas on campus.
The smoking ban is another item in a list of activities that the University is saying we can't do. We can't park cheaply; we can't drop our classes without a heavy penalty; we can't eat on campus for under $10. Now, we can't smoke. Hopefully they will satisfy their apparent need to make college more difficult and expensive before we end up more like a high school rather than a university.
Banning smoking is not an issue of public health. It is an issue of the majority overstepping the needs and concerns of the minority. Everyone knows smoking is bad, but it is our right to do what makes us happy, even it hurts us in the long run.
Eric Smith, committee member and director of health promotion and wellness, said that students who smoke cigarettes would be treated as having conduct issues and employees would be treated as having supervisory issues. Again, this is not a solution.
Smokers, whether employees or students, shouldn't be treated like social pariahs. Unfair treatment will only breed contempt, especially from smokers who are model employees or students.
Our campus has many brilliant minds, hopefully we can use them to create a practical compromise.