Let’s be clear on one thing; there shouldn’t be anyone left that thinks smoking is good for them. We no longer live in an age where we can claim ignorance.
But that also means that the people who smoke tobacco are consciously making a choice against healthy habits. Yet next year, California State University, Long Beach will attempt to make that choice for them.
President Conoley broke the news at this year’s convocation that smoking will be banned from campus by August 2016.
This is clearly a noble goal on its surface, but also represents a broad overreach for the university.
This plan to eliminate smoking will begin with the launch of the Breathe Campaign from CSULB, which will focus on encouraging students to quit their habit.
As if it were only that easy.
If smoking were simply a rational decision, then it would already be eliminated from campus.
But within the community of CSULB students, there are a great many who smoke because they either enjoy it or can’t live without it. And the school plans to tell that group to go elsewhere.
Where is that elsewhere? Well, imagine you are sitting in a long lecture in the Hall of Science and want to duck out for a quick stress-reliever. What once would have been a quick five minutes and back will soon require a 30-minute walk to make it to the borders of the campus.
The school can say that they are not making the decision for the students, that they are still free to smoke if they choose, but this isn’t a reasonable choice at all. Students will either need incredibly understanding professors, or incredibly patient nerves.
This type of catch-22 illustrates a lack of foresight in this plan.
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In an interview with the Daily 49er, Conoley also added that ashtrays would be removed from the campus along with the ban. The school clearly won’t need them anymore once smoking is banned on campus. As long as every smoker changes their lifestyle accordingly.
But why would they? Also in the interview, Conoley said that the school does not plan on actually issuing citations to smokers for up to three years. No reprimanding, no need to change.
The reality is that there will still be smoking on campus. In hidden pockets around the school, in packed parking lots and in at the bus stops there will still be smoking. There just won’t be ashtrays, meaning there will be cigarette butts, lots and lots of them.
But along with angry adults lacking cigarettes, scattered cigarette butts in dark corners across campus and stressed-out smokers looking for another vice, CSULB will be a host to a lack of acceptance.
Yes, cigarette smoke is annoying when it’s blown in your face. And yes, cigarettes are not the only way to relieve stress.
But the choice to smoke is a human right. What we do to ourselves to relax and prepare for the next class is not the university’s business.
Again, students on campus are adults; if they choose and want to smoke, they deserve to. Sometimes you need a light in the darkness of your school day.