The Daily Aztec, Opinion
Posted on 30 August 2011.
I’ve heard quite a few complaints from smokers regarding San Diego State’s new, strikingly titled “Smoking in Designated Areas Policy,” which went into effect August 22.
The new regulation drastically increases the limitations governing tobacco use on campus. The old policy banned smoking within 20 feet of any university building, but from now, on smoking in outdoor areas is also prohibited with the exception of limited designated smoking areas. Smokers scream they are being discriminated and herded into smaller and smaller pens. While their freedom-loving hearts may be in the right place, their outrage is both naively idealistic and self-centered.
Cries of “They can’t do this!” are not well thought out. If the university has the right to regulate the consumption of drugs and alcohol on campus — both of which may not directly impact the health of uninvolved students — why should smoking tobacco, already proven to cause collateral damage, be off limits? You can claim secondhand smoke hysteria is overblown, but the fact remains: Cigarette smoke is a health hazard.
So much scientific evidence has been marshaled behind this case that California has countless laws in the books banning tobacco products, a major tax revenue earner. Smoking in the workplace and public locations such as restaurants and bars is heavily regulated in many states. The town of Belmont, Mass. has even made it illegal to smoke in your own apartment or condominium if it shares a wall or ceiling with another unit.
It is both well within SDSU’s rights to regulate smoke and make policies in the best interest of the overall student body. I would assume the majority of students on campus are not smokers, or smoke rarely. Even the smokers, I would assume, do not enjoy inhaling other peoples’ fumes — be they from cigarettes or other biological factors.
Let’s be clear about this new policy: It makes no steps to ban smoking on campus outright. Nor is SDSU intending this action to be some kind of moral prerogative. What it does accomplish is giving both sides — the smoking and the nonsmoking — the opportunity to coexist harmoniously without unwanted intrusion into another person’s freedoms. What smokers may sacrifice with convenience they ultimately replace with respect for nonsmokers.
Smokers cannot assume the role of an oppressed minority. They are not being singled out for unfair treatment. The new policy applies to all and is sufficiently justified by significant health concerns. SDSU has the right to protect the health of its students and itself from liability. Considering the university provides free health services to students, it is in its best interest to keep us healthy.
The policy only regulates smoking on campus. The way legal trends are looking, smokers should enjoy their ability to smoke elsewhere while it lasts. With 12 designated areas strategically located around campus, only students living on campus can claim any inconvenience, although minor. The bottom line is, coming to this campus is a choice and it is not the university’s responsibility to enable our addictions.
For the full policy and map of designated smoking locations visit: http://bfa.sdsu.edu/smokingpolicy/
For smoking cessation resources contact SDSU Student Health Services.