Banning the Smoking Gun

It seems that colleges, KSU in particular, are getting a little ban happy. That itching trigger finger is now looking at killing smoking on campus. They think that if something is banned, it won’t be around to cause harm. KSU has recently sent out a survey asking students about campus smoking.

The first problem in any discussion of banning something is that any ban infringes on the freedoms of an individual. Banning smoking is in clear language an infringement on smoker’s rights. You simply can’t say it isn’t. So from the start of the debate each side knows that our freedoms that define our country are under attack. That being said, society supports infringing on some freedoms for the greater good. So now the debate must decide if taking away a freedom from a group of individuals is worth the health benefits. It may be thought that if you ban smoking, people will smoke less. This isn’t true according to economists at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The researchers found that smoking bans don’t have any significant effect on the number of smokers, according to David Nicklaus at St. Louis Today.

Secondhand smoke can cause harm. Georgians have gone to great strides limit the amount nonsmokers are forced to breathe, as we should. Smoking is no longer allowed on airplanes, in schools, or in most establishments in Georgia. Smokers are now relegated to outside areas. I can completely support that, but now some KSU students and employees wish to ban smoking on campus completely. Many people feel that they are taking in too much smoke at KSU when they walk between classes. A study by Stanford University showed that being within 18 inches of someone who smokes two cigarettes over an hour is just as bad as being in a bar filled with smoke for an hour. How many people walk within 18 inches of the smoking sections accidently? If you are walking that close to a smoker, you are voluntarily choosing to take in secondhand smoke.

KSU has a strict limited smoking campus with designated areas for smokers to use. These areas limit how much smoke the nonsmokers on campus come into contact with. So are people upset that they must walk near these areas? Michael Seiger said in his New York Times article about New York City banning all smoking to restricted areas that these bans “may actually increase exposure by creating smoke-filled areas near park entrances that cannot be avoided.” So by restricting smoking to these special areas, we may be forcing nonsmokers into dangerous secondhand smoke areas. Wouldn’t it make more sense to leave smoking unrestricted while outside so the density of smokers is lessened?

Why must we ban smoking completely? Are people upset about those students who do not obey the smoking restrictions? Are they mad at the amount of litter around the smoking sections? If that is the case, it would be better for students to seek out their SGA representative and tell them they want better enforcement of the existing campus rules, rather than KSU banning smoking completely. Banning campus smoking will be less effective than the restricted campus areas are.

 

Carl is a senior and an English major.