Damn You, STFU: An Unfair Campaign That's Working For Me

-Casey Klekas

I used to scoff at the Smoke and Tobacco Free University campaign, smartly and respectfully acronymed STFU (was “Get The F!@# Out” already taken?). I never thought a little inconvenience would get me to cut back on the smokes. The sort of public declaration of intolerance, the mob-rule attack on a minority, was a little tough to swallow. But I accepted it and took to smoking elsewhere. Now I wouldn’t dare be caught with a lit cigarette between Agate and Alder, 18th and Broadway. So, I’m like Socrates: I respect the laws, even if I disagree with them (hopefully they won’t condemn me to drink poison).

I’ve changed my route to the PLC so I can burn a quick one before class. Between classes I’ll sneak to the other side of Kincaid and hope my smoke doesn’t drift eastward. When I’m walking home, I’ll wait until I pass our smoke-free campus boundary to hang out with Mr. Stogie. And my general impression when I’m near campus is that of an exile that’s coming too close to his old town.

I’m not going to bring up a losing argument against the movement that banned smoke and tobacco from campus. I understand that it bothers people and they’d prefer not to walk through a cloud of second-hand smoke before they go into the library (now they can just settle for a line of smokers on the perimeter of campus). I realize that many smokers are not as conscious as I would say I am about the social toxicity of second-hand smoke. But I am bothered by the air of zero-tolerance that seems antithetical to what we stand for as Ducks. STFU? Has there ever been another campus campaign that could get away with condemning behavior like this, enough so that smokers are implicitly told to Shut The F!@# Up? I don’t think so.

But what bothers me more than the little inconveniences and my status as a pariah is that, in my case, the STFU campaign has actually worked. Since the new year started, I haven’t smoked a sober cigarette. Maybe this is because I feel so unwanted by my peers when I reach for my pack of stoges. It’s a bit of a drag to think that I can be so easily manipulated.

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