Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Upcoming tobacco ban gives smokers no room to breathe

Casey Ledoux / Free Press Staff

Posted on November 05, 2012 in Perspectives
By Andrew Henry

By Thomas Collier


On the day students return to campus this January from winter break, the air will be fresh, clean and crisp. The campus will be completely tobacco-free because of a ban, and I’ll be across the street, smoking.

The reasons for the ban are understandable: smoking stinks, makes it easier to catch airborne illnesses, causes cancer and polluting fumes pose a health threat to others. Smoking is bad. One should not, however, take this to mean that smokers themselves are bad because they enjoy a cigarette now and again – an association that seems to be drawn, however unintentionally, by many nonsmokers.

Smokers aren’t really a close-knit group, and I’ve yet to meet a person who is very passionate about the act of smoking. We’re not like beer nerds or oenophiles or even cigar aficionados: we smoke because we like to smoke, but that’s about as far as it goes. That said, the smoking ban that USM intends to put in place next semester will surely bring smokers together in some fashion, whether it be in an off-campus huddle to stay warm in the cold weather or as part of some sort of smoketastic protest. If university administrators think that the smoking ban will encourage students and staff to quit smoking, I suspect that they are in for a disappointment. Smokers can and will smoke elsewhere. I don’t say this because I’m a proud smoker, for I am not, but because I know, unlike many of those who agree with the smoking ban, what it is that makes smoking enjoyable and precisely how difficult of a habit it is to quit.

Most people are aware of the health risks of smoking and of being around smokers while they smoke. One would posit that fear of contact with second-hand smoke is perhaps the biggest reason for USM’s smoking ban. Yet again, allow me to iterate that this is an entirely understandable concern. I don’t want to give anyone cancer. One may wish to consider, however, that the carcinogens produced in tobacco combustion are little different from those produced in a bonfire or household hearth. In fact, studies have shown that wood combustion – just as it occurs in a fireplace, for instance – actually releases more carcinogens and mutagens that are up to 40 times more harmful than those found in cigarette smoke; yet, we don’t put our wood stoves and fireplaces across the street, do we? If an individual can detect the wonderful scent of burning wood – a scent so often associated with winter and the holiday season – that person may be at a greater risk of developing lung-related health issues than if he or she were to come into contact with second-hand cigarette smoke

Why should the university, a public state institution, dictate what its paying students are allowed to do with their own bodies? I’ll make the concession that smoking is an offensive bad habit, that smokers should be isolated from nonsmokers so that the air around campus may remain free of harmful pollutants, but I fail to see how it’s the university’s business whether or not a student may use a product as inoffensive as smokeless tobacco. If disposed of considerately, smokeless tobacco poses absolutely no risk to any individual other than its user. It certainly isn’t a safe product by any stretch of the mind, but its mode of consumption renders it completely innocuous to tobacco-free students, faculty and staff.

Complete tobacco prohibition would make sense if USM were attended mostly by children, but as nearly every attending student and staff member is an adult, the very idea is honestly a bit ridiculous. We don’t need to hold hands to cross the street. We needn’t be required to wear knee pads in case we fall. We are aware of the risks of smoking and those of other quotidian activities. We can make our own choices, and we will.

Though I’m dismayed by the institution’s upcoming tobacco ban, one shouldn’t assume that the currently implemented smoking policy is otherwise satisfactory or any less deserving of disappointment. Why, for instance, don’t smokers have well-positioned smoking areas? Currently there are not, nor have there ever been, convenient or obvious places for students and staff to smoke. Apparently, designated smoking areas do currently exist, but they are so far removed from the typical smoking spots and so poorly marked that it’s no surprise that students keep smoking in the same areas as they always have. Perhaps if the university worked to accommodate these smokers – students, faculty and staff – instead of treating them like inferiors without any say in university policy, this tobacco issue would not be an issue.

  • Anonymous

    why don’t they worry about drugs crimes in me leave smokers alone what a bunch of garbage targeting smokers what about your drunk drivers aw yes you government officials all drink get real issues banning smoking wont solve your crime issue your economics problems this is America banning taking someone rights is unconstitutional stop dictating are you going to ban cars also for polluting the air or water all polluted by by mills can I ban cars because it’s poisoning the air take care of real issues stop picking on one of the least lol

  • JoshIronThornberg

    Many students at USM agree that the buckets that were once used to collect cigarette butts, are needed once more. They are still scattered occasionally around the campuses, but there are certain locations where they have really been littered because (they still smoke on campus) but there’s no place to throw out their trash afterwards. Yes, yes they are not supposed to be on campus grounds but the bottom line is, they are, and it’s beginning to show. I’ve talked to some about this and they feel bad about it because of the litter. But asked if they plan on ever going off campus, and the answer is “Even if we do, there’s no way to track all of us, at all times.”
    A point was made. The amount of USM Police I’ve seen, ever is at most 5-7. There’s about 45 total RA’s on campus, but there’s an unknown number of smokers among, what, 5000 total students/staff? Unless you plan on bugging the whole school with even MORE cameras, (yes I’ve seen them), then in my mind I’ve not a clue in the slightest how USM plans on keeping tabs on smoking…
    I’m not trying to cause an uproar, or an argument, or anything of the sort. I’m just trying to give some perspective from a smokers point of view.

  • The government can only force us by imposing such bans, why can’t the simply stop the tobacco firms from producing cigarettes.

  • What about alcohol, pollution and junk food? These should also be banned, smoking is not the only thing which harm our health.

  • Ross Taylor

    Excellently amazing and exciting too. Can you please mention me the source of your reference… I am happy that at least somebody gave this subject an attention.
    Mya hookah store

  • SmokeTastic

    Is the smoketastic march sponsored by by any chance?

  • Anonymous

    They have created a fear that is based on nothing’’World-renowned pulmonologist, president of the prestigious Research Institute Necker for the last decade, Professor Philippe Even, now retired, tells us that he’s convinced of the absence of harm from passive smoking. A shocking interview.
    What do the studies on passive smoking tell us?
    PHILIPPE EVEN. There are about a hundred studies on the issue. First surprise: 40% of them claim a total absence of harmful effects of passive smoking on health. The remaining 60% estimate that the cancer risk is multiplied by 0.02 for the most optimistic and by 0.15 for the more pessimistic … compared to a risk multiplied by 10 or 20 for active smoking! It is therefore negligible. Clearly, the harm is either nonexistent, or it is extremely low.
    It is an indisputable scientific fact. Anti-tobacco associations report 3 000-6 000 deaths per year in France …
    I am curious to know their sources. No study has ever produced such a result.
    Many experts argue that passive smoking is also responsible for cardiovascular disease and other asthma attacks. Not you?
    They don’t base it on any solid scientific evidence. Take the case of cardiovascular diseases: the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done. Regarding chronic bronchitis, although the role of active smoking is undeniable, that of passive smoking is yet to be proven. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor … but not greater than pollen!
    The purpose of the ban on smoking in public places, however, was to protect non-smokers. It was thus based on nothing?
    Absolutely nothing! The psychosis began with the publication of a report by the IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer, which depends on the WHO (Editor’s note: World Health Organization). The report released in 2002 says it is now proven that passive smoking carries serious health risks, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It’s everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything.
    Why would anti-tobacco organizations wave a threat that does not exist?…
    The anti-smoking campaigns and higher cigarette prices having failed, they had to find a new way to lower the number of smokers. By waving the threat of passive smoking, they found a tool that really works: social pressure. In good faith, non-smokers felt in danger and started to stand up against smokers. As a result, passive smoking has become a public health problem, paving the way for the Evin Law and the decree banning smoking in public places. The cause may be good, but I do not think it is good to legislate on a lie. And the worst part is that it does not work: since the entry into force of the decree, cigarette sales are rising again.
    Why not speak up earlier?
    As a civil servant, dean of the largest medical faculty in France, I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.
    Le Parisien…

  • Anonymous

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced an initiative to ban smoking from college campuses last month. This is part of the HHS goal to create a society free of tobacco-related disease and death, according to their action plan released by the HHS in 2010.
    Colleges who fail to enact campus-wide smoking bans and other tobacco-free policies may soon face the loss of grants and contracts from the HHS, according to the plan. Western receives grants through a subdivision of the HHS called the National Institutes of Health, Acting Vice Provost for Research Kathleen Kitto said.
    Obama administration to push for eliminating smoking on college campuses
    Read more: … z29zJ2V2TV

    President Barack Obama has already promised not to smoke cigarettes in the White House. If his administration has its way, American college students will soon be required to follow suit while they’re on campus.
    Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will announce a national initiative Wednesday at the University of Michigan School of Public Health to stamp out tobacco use on college campuses.
    “We are witnessing a public health evolution to make smoking history and protect people from tobacco dependence so that they have a fighting chance to enjoy their full potential for health,” Koh said in a statement released by the University of Michigan, a smoke-free campus since last July.
    “Implementing this initiative will bring us closer to a world where tobacco-related illness is uncommon and lung cancer — the leading cause of cancer death in the country — is rare.”
    Koh will announce the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, reportedly part of Health and Human Services’ national Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan, which will push other institutions of higher learning to adopt tobacco-free policies.
    “Twenty million students, about a third of all young adults in this country, are enrolled in higher education,” added University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network executive director and Koh advisor Clifford Douglas. “Through their campus policies, colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to influence a student’s daily life.”
    A number of colleges have already moved to become smoke-free voluntarily. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights claim that 774 American college campuses had eliminated smoking by July 1, including 562 that banned tobacco completely, according to USA Today.

    ENDING THETOBACCO EPIDEMICA Tobacco Control StrategicAction Plan for theU.S. Department of Healthand Human Services
    Introduction“ Our work to protect our children and improve the public’s health is not complete. Today, tobacco is the leadingpreventable cause of death not just in America, but alsoin the world.”President Barack ObamaJune 22, 2009 … an2010.pdf
    Now do you believe me!

  • County Escapee

    Huddling by an entrance door in a cloud is inconsiderate and offensive, but if they’re in a spot away from me, have at it! Catching a whiff of it is not the same as spending 3-4 hours in a bar or club. Smelly yes, a danger to me no.