Every time I am on campus I notice a new warning sign for those who are tobaccoally-inclined. Recently, I’ve noticed the threat of $30 fines for those caught smoking on our Smoke and Tobacco Free University.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about how the non-smoking campaign has successfully diminished the number of times I reach for my smokes. I am strongly opposed to the smoking ban, but the fact that it has been effective for me is particularly upsetting.
Maybe other people haven’t noticed the change as much, because they aren’t negatively affected by our new policy. Non-smokers are generally relieved to have cigarette smoke moved off campus. Yet they don’t seem to be satisfied with merely pushing smokers off campus. It’s not that they don’t want them here or there. They don’t want them anywhere.
I’ve smoked a few times on campus since the new ban (fine me!), but mostly at night when there aren’t any people around to take offense.
Resting on the benches on the perimeter of campus was Michael Mazza. Michael is a student at UO and Michael is a smoker. I asked Michael for his thoughts on the STFU campaign.
Would you consider yourself a smoker?
“On and off.”
How do you feel about the smoking ban?
“It’s ridiculous… unnecessary.” He added, “a little more punitive than helpful.”
Has it affected your smoking habit?
“No.” Although Michael did admit that in between classes, he is often forced to decide between walking to the edge of campus to smoke, or else be useless for the first ten minutes of class.
Michael mentioned the smoking policy at Lane Community College, which had accommodated for its students several smoking sections. LCC has now made smoking only allowed in the parking lots.
Michael did not feel like an outcast, a pariah, but could understand how some might feel that way.
He also mentioned that smokers put up with a lot of behavior that they don’t necessarily agree with, yet we don’t ask for a school-sanctioned ban for validation.
For instance, the school sells plenty of junk food in its vending machines and cafeterias. But, students can make up their own choice about what kind of food they eat. I agree. I think the whole smoking on campus situation could have been handled with an open mind (say, designating a few, isolated smoking areas on campus) rather than with the toxic air of intolerance that is our STFU.
Image by Fried Dough.