Implications of the campus-wide smoking ban

Toycen, Michael

Under new rules at Lawrence, people are no longer allowed to smoke within the “academic necklace” of campus. Although it is completely acceptable to pass this rule — Lawrence is private property — there are some implications that need to be brought to attention.
First, the biggest problem with the ban is that short of someone vigilantly patrolling the affected areas and accosting individuals who break the rules, very little can be done in the way of enforcement.
People may follow the ban out of the good of their hearts, but if not, both parties will suffer. LU security will have its time wasted by shaking down kids over cigarettes, and smokers, hassled, will quickly lose any respect they once had for security. Further, people being able to repeatedly break a rule makes a mockery of the law.
Then there is pollution. To encourage people to cease smoking in the academic necklace, ashtrays will be moved to areas outside the ban. Though this may cut down on smoking, it will only create more litter. Smokers are generally able to disregard the rule with little consequence, and will have no place to dispose their cigarette butts. This will dirty Lawrence’s campus.
Though I applaud the cabinet and the faculty committee on university governance for trying to make Lawrence healthier, this smoking ban is filled with implications not properly thought out. People at Lawrence University –students, faculty or staff — should make rules in accordance with reality, not lofty ideals.
Most troubling about this is how indifferent many people on campus have been to the smoking ban — especially drinkers. When one compares the damage that smoking and alcohol consumption do to this campus, alcohol is far worse than smoking.
Hangovers cause students to miss class, drinking too much impairs academics, and people go to the hospital almost every term for binge drinking. Also, there is a remarkable amount of vandalism because of alcohol. Clearly the administration should be fighting alcohol consumption as aggressively as they are fighting smoking.
But they are not, and with good reason. The administration at Lawrence has been pragmatic enough to understand that since drinking is so widespread, the only thing that can be realistically done to combat it is control it as best as possible.
Smokers are a minority with a dirty habit, while drinkers are clearly a powerful lobby. And though it is fair to say that alcohol is also banned within academic areas, alcohol inhibits learning far more than smoking does. Drinking in Main Hall during class is like smoking while running — your vice does not fit your current activity.
Several of my friends — we were drinking a lot — were perplexed when I disagreed with the ban. My friends countered that it did not affect me, so why should I care? I don’t smoke cigarettes. But at the same time, there are many people at Lawrence who choose not to drink and thus have to put up with damage done to Lawrence because of alcohol; I’m sure there are a number of people on this campus who teetotal and would have no qualms with ridding Lawrence of alcohol.
At this point, an alcohol ban is impossible. A smoking ban was feasible because it affected a minority, and a majority has no problem with it. A freedom is a freedom, and one that existed before no longer does. People should consider this no matter what their vice is.

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