I recently received, as I’m sure did the rest of you, an email documenting and explaining the fact that Lawrence now has a new smoking policy. The abstract of the whole thing is essentially that the only places on campus where it is now acceptable to smoke are the two smoking shelters, positioned outside of Ormsby and Trever, respectively, and any public sidewalks.
Small and theme houses also continue to have the ability to designate their own policies regarding smoking on porches, etc. All Lawrence sidewalks, parking lots and campus areas aside from the aforementioned are now entirely smoke free.
It’s funny, though, because there really doesn’t seem to be any marked decline in the amount of people smoking on campus in contrast to past years.
When I first arrived back on campus this fall, I wondered if the absence of a decline in campus smoking might have been attributable to an acclimation period of sorts, but I think that it is now safe to say that this is not the case. Rather, it seems entirely clear now that the issue is that Lawrence has simply attempted to institute this change with very minimal regard for their enforcement of this policy.
I willingly concede that Lawrence has, in instituting this change, made some efforts to accommodate those who still choose to smoke. As I mentioned earlier, they’ve taken the time to build two bastardized, landlocked tree-house type sheds for the comfort of all smokers.
These miniature clubhouses have clearly stemmed from a decent idea — “give the smokers a place to smoke” — but represent several major logistical failures. As a starting point, there are only two of them, and each could only fit roughly five or six people comfortably at a given time.
So unless we all want to take turns assigning ourselves to little smoking groups, the demand greatly outweighs the supply of acceptable smoking venues.
Also, were this a serious proposition to ensure the comfort of both non-smokers and smokers — and not simply an attempt to gradually phase out smoking as a whole on this campus — each residence hall would have their own smoking gazebo so as to balance the amount of effort necessary to relocate oneself to a smoking area.
What is perhaps most shocking, though, remains the fact that there seems to exist little to no enforcement of this policy anywhere on campus. Some might argue that this reflects a saddening truth about the nature of people when left to nothing but their own honor to obey such policies, but this is not the case.
According to insidehighered.com, approximately 20% of university students in America smoke cigarettes. Are we as a campus willing to stigmatize the behavior of a fifth of our student body? I should hope not.
Lawrence’s new policy not only inconveniences students attempting to engage in a social pastime, but it also sadly continues our societal confusion of something that is objectively bad for one’s health with something that is objectively morally bad. It would be a shame if Lawrence’s new smoking policy came into effect as planned. Thankfully, given the lack of enforcement of the policy, it never will.