As of January 2015, Oswego State is a tobacco-free campus. When I first heard about the impending switch last semester, I was against telling adults they are not allowed to have a cigarette without fear of getting reprimanded and punished. Having to go off campus, especially during the harsh weather in the winter months, is such a burden to place on someone, who may very well have a serious addiction. However, after hearing the reactions from students, and researching the facts of other campuses going tobacco free, I am more inclined to be in favor of the ban.
A resident neighbor of mine, who wished to remain anonymous, was against the ban, citing much of the reasons mentioned above. He felt like working harder to enforce the designated smoking areas should have been a step taken before a total ban of tobacco.
Student Laura Smith offered a rebuttal to that argument, claiming student smokers “did not listen to the signs” and going to further measures to enforce the area restrictions was a waste of the university’s and University Police’s time and resources. I agree with Laura’s position and then some. In theory, designated smoking areas would prevent anyone who does not want to inhale tobacco from doing so. However, many students agreed the areas were still close to main areas of walking traffic, and there are not any invisible walls preventing smoke from drifting toward those nearby. Students Kevin Spath and Emily Nassir both said they struggled to get to class without smelling cigarettes.
Student Kevin Clark said he believes the school’s “heart is in the right place,” but that adults should still be able to make a choice whether to smoke or not. Clark compared the situation to dining hall food provided by the school. Yes, some food is awful, health wise, but there are plenty of alternative healthy options available. In the end, the student decides what he or she wants to put into his or her body. Clark supports efforts to encourage students to stop smoking but still thinks the decision to smoke should be an option.
Nassir agreed with Clark that the school is concerned with the well-being of their students. However, she believes the university absolutely has the right to tell its students what they can and cannot do.
“No one is forcing anyone to be here,” Nassir said. “It’s a matter of respect too. Respect the rules and respect others around you. You can’t catch second hand alcohol. Smoking can harm other people in addition to the damage it’s doing to your own body.”
Furthermore, in the couple weeks she’s been here this semester, she believes the ban has helped.
Tobacco-free college campuses are on a rapid rise in the U.S. In the four years since 2011, the number of tobacco-free campuses has jumped from just under 600 to over 1,500. The sentiment of wanting to keep young adults away from such a harmful addiction is hard not to admire. According to the Tobacco Free College Campus Initiative, around 99 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 26, so college provides a perfect age platform to discourage potential smokers and help those who have already indulged in the habit.
Whether one believes the tobacco ban helps prohibit an addiction or merely makes the addiction harder to maintain is up for debate. One could even argue somewhere in the middle, that making an addiction harder to maintain does indeed help end an addiction. However, those opposed to the ban should not be angry at Oswego State. There is an increasing social norm against public smoking and we are just joining the trend. When the intent of a policy is to improve public health, I find it hard to be mad at the policy, despite legitimate gripes about the difficulty some may have adjusting to it.