Smoking a basic human right, banned or not
A little over a week ago, as I was walking through Brody Hall to get dinner, I was asked by a girl who was member of Spartans Fighting Cancer if I’d sign a petition to help make MSU smoke free, to which I gave a definitive “no.”
I didn’t refuse because I was hungry and in a hurry, or because I’m a cigarette smoker myself and certainly not because I’m pro-cancer. I said no because it’s an infringement on the civil liberties of those individuals who do choose to smoke.
MSU already has a smoke-free policy that doesn’t allow smoking inside or within 25 feet of its buildings. That seems pretty reasonable to me, but to go any further than that is completely unnecessary.
I don’t smoke cigarettes, nor do I ever plan to. I choose not to smoke because I know it’s an addictive, unhealthy habit that can yes, potentially cause cancer. I don’t smoke, but not because somebody told me I can’t.
Smoking is a personal choice, not something you should lawfully mandate people from doing. The same way eating a greasy cheeseburger is a choice, or the way binge drinking on a football Saturday is a choice.
People don’t do these things because they’re healthy for you. They do them because they want to and choose to. It’s 2014, nobody is denying that smoking cigarettes is bad for you.
In a recent State News article on the smoking ban petition writers, the president of Spartans Fighting Cancer Sarah Hoffman was quoted saying, “About half of the other Big Ten schools are smoke-free. Isn’t that reason enough for us to be?”
Well, quite frankly, no. It’s not. There is actually no reasoning or explanation behind that rationale whatsoever. Just because other schools have done it, doesn’t mean we should.
Maybe we should try to lead and stand out from the rest of the Big Ten schools by trying to preserve some basic rights for our faculty and students.
If the writers of this smoking ban petition are really this worried about everyone’s health, they should solely be focusing on educating people on the dangers of smoking, rather than trying to create a policy that is forcefully telling people what they can and can’t do.
Parking on this campus is ridiculous enough as it is. The last thing I want to see are parking services handing out tickets to poor college students because somebody decided they wanted to light u p a smoke between classes.
I’d like to think that college is a time of independence, personal responsibility and freedom. Do we really need our hands held by the university to not make a choice as simple as smoking a cigarette? What kind of message is that sending to us as students? Definitely not one that’s preparing us for life post-graduation.
College can also be of great stress for many students. Trying to keep up with the absurd expectations of our fast paced world can be extremely demanding for students trying to balance work, classes and social life, on top of trying to pay for rent and rising tuition rates. Everybody has different ways of dealing with stress and for some students and faculty, smoking is one of them.
I understand the argument behind being around second hand smoke being a possible health hazard to those who aren’t smoking, but the 25 foot rule should take care of that issue so long as it’s enforced. And if it’s not being enforced, then maybe the university should create a policy that has designated areas for smoking, rather than places where people can’t smoke.
Bottom line is that smoking is legal and even if it weren’t people would probably still do it around campus anyway — just as minors still consume alcohol and people still smoke marijuana, despite the legal restrictions.
Next time you feel bothered or disgusted by somebody who is smoking on campus, I have some words of advice for you, “move over there.”
Ian Martin is a reporter at The State News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.