Editor’s Note: This is the Con argument in The Index’s Pro-Con debate on on-campus smoking. To read the Pro, click here.
It has happened to us all; upon exiting Hicks or Upjohn, we’re greeted with a face full of smoke, the sudden surprise gifting us an involuntary sputter and an urge to quickly walk away.
For us non-smokers, it’s aggravating. We don’t want to inhale the wispy grey cloud or taste carcinogen laced air. Campuses around the nation are going entirely smoke free; should Kalamazoo College then follow suit?
Absolutely not. A campus-wide ban would achieve nothing.
Proponents of a ban see it as a way to reduce non-smokers’ unwanted contact with tobacco smoke. Smoking bans are also seen as a step forward for academic institutions to protect the health of their students.
The real issue at hand is enforcement of K’s already existing smoking policy, which prohibits smoking “inside campus buildings and within 25 feet of the perimeter of campus buildings or of occupied walkways.”
If the 25-foot rule isn’t being enforced now, especially when the size of the enforcement areas still is manageable, an extended campus policy would make no difference.
The system is already broken—growing enforcement area to almost 60 acres isn’t feasible or effective at all.
The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research’s nationwide drug usage study, found that 5.2% of college students are daily cigarette smokers (359).
Using this statistic for K’s 1461 students, we find ourselves with a tiny minority of 76 daily smokers, who can smoke as they please on K’s almost 60 acres, so long as they follow campus policy.
Non-smokers’ health won’t be harmed, either. According to Stanford researchers, cigarette smoke quickly dissipates outdoors, and its second hand smoke effects are insignificant, especially when contacted only in passing.
Students and administration alike should remain cognizant that of-age adults are legally allowed usage of tobacco products. A campus-wide ban may not be an obstruction of legal rights, per se, but does still encourage discrimination against nicotine addicts.
Prohibition arguably doesn’t work as intended—on much larger scales we see the former alcohol and current marijuana prohibitions demonstrating the impossibility of eliminating harmful substances from common usage.
It is better to encourage responsible behavior than shunning users into secrecy or possibly creating a campus atmosphere of fear.
If Kalamazoo College really wants to make a difference, then their human and financial resources should be focused on smoking-cessation programs or enforcement of the existing policy, rather than on an attempt to implement an ineffective and unenforceable campus-wide smoking ban.