Every time my cousin gets into my car, he pulls out the spit cup he always brings with him, grabs his dip, and spews out these blackish, foul-smelling globs. I can’t decide whether the best part is when he leaves it in my car or when he spills it. Coming from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where there is a smoke-free policy, he and every single one of his friends there have found their love of chewing tobacco. Despite arguable reasons for colleges to implement smoke-free campus policies that you’ve probably all heard about, there is an abundance of compelling, legitimate arguments against creating such policies. Two main reasons to not implement smoke-free policies include the rise in use of other tobacco products and the pushing of students off-campus into unsafe areas.
Students who are addicted to nicotine will find other nicotine products to replace the cigarettes they crave. The most common nicotine product other than cigarettes is dip: finely ground moist tobacco. To “dip”, users stick a lump of tobacco in their lower lip. This gets the nicotine into their system while causing excessive salivation, which makes the user sick if they swallow it. Imagine all the groups of smokers you’ve seen outside on campus, and replace them with the tasteful visual of a group of people repetitively spitting black, tar-like, odorous wads of dip. Or maybe, since it’s so cold, students would just dip while in class. Imagine that: a spit-cup on their desk reeking of bad breath and tobacco. Or, think of walking up the George Eastman quad, admiring the beautiful, view of our campus, and then you look down to see you’ve stepped in one of many pools of black, chunky, rancid saliva. As pleasant as that sounds, I’d rather catch a whiff of smoke from a passerby than have their saliva and partially ingested tobacco on my sneakers.
Smoke-free policies would insist that, instead of just stepping outside, students would need to leave campus in order to smoke. Not only would this decrease the amount of students who hang out on campus and decrease the general feeling of community because of a less-populated campus, but it would also decrease the safety of students.
So, it’s a bit before midnight, and before falling asleep, students on the Res Quad decide to walk across the river because it’s the closest place to go to smoke. Need I mention that off-campus areas are not always the most agreeable, especially in the middle of the night? As a student body, we already get enough emails about our peers running into terrible situations in some of the worse areas off-campus. Studies have shown that about 25% of college students smoke cigarettes. At the UR, with a 5,000 student undergraduate body, if just half of the students who smoke want to go off campus for a nightly smoke, over 600 students every night will end up wandering across the river. The implementation of a smoke-free campus would push students into surrounding areas, and something that is frankly both unsafe and unnecessary.
These are just two of the many reasons for not implementing smoke-free policies. More include costliness, the unenforceable nature of such policies, and a blatant disrespect for individual rights. But when it all comes down to it, I wouldn’t want to fight policies that genuinely promote the wants of our student body. The downfall of public forums is that they solely draw out the people who are passionate and extreme about either opposing viewpoint. If the school is really serious about implementing smoke-free policies, if should construct a short, mandatory survey to accurately gauge what the entirety of our student body wants. The survey should be able to distinguish between those who are nonsmokers and those who are nonsmokers who want a smoke-free campus.
If a majority of the student body wants a smoke-free campus, then I would agree it’s the right decision for our school to make. There just needs to be a wider understanding that a smoke-free campus has an abundance of drawbacks for not just smokers but for the campus community as a whole.
Lawyer is a member of
the class of 2017.