Southern Tech, like many schools, is considering a smoking ban on campus. I was thinking as much as a decade ago that this might be the natural extension of the bans in bars and restaurants. Of course, to voice this back then was to be building up strawmen and making slippery slope fallacies and all that jazz. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure back then. I mean, a bar or a restaurant is one thing, but an entire campus of hundreds of of acres? When office campuses started going entirely smoke free, I stopped feeling that I was perhaps paranoid.

I am against the ban, to what I am sure is nobody’s surprise. So is the Student Association. I find it difficult to believe that on a campus that is nearly 500 acres in size that you cannot find places to accommodate smokers. I feel oddly dispassionate about it, though. It will likely happen at some point, it will likely be ignored. Potential compromises may be passed along the way, but even workable compromises will be deemed insufficient.

In the case of Sotech, there are rumors that it is not entirely the school’s choice and that cancer institutes are threatening to stop giving grants to schools that don’t have smoking bans. Which, if it comes down to losing significant amounts of research dollars, I guess I understand.

Rather than objecting on an ideological level, it’s mostly the sense of loss that nags at me. Not the loss of our freedoms, but that being able to smoke on campus provided extraordinarily good social opportunities for me as an undergraduate. The bans around doorways actually just made it better because it got us all clumped together. No smoking on campus and I never meet Dharla (I mention her, but there were others). This is no thing for a lot of people, who instead of going out to smoke might go to the commons area and meet people there. Me being me, I’d probably have stayed in the dorm and not met anybody. At least, my pre-smoking college experience bears that speculation out.

That’s not exactly a defense of smoking in any logical manner. Which is to say, if there weren’t other issues at stake, my introversion would not be justification for inconveniencing other people. And though I have my objections to a lot of the smoking bans, I can’t at all say that it is an altogether bad thing for smokers to make smoking inconvenient. So it’s not a rational reaction. But dang, man, one of my college experiences is about to be consigned to a period piece.


Category: School

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6 Responses to Getting Smokey: Campus Edition

  1. ScarletKnight says:

    slippery slope

    Well there is a reason it is called a slippery slope.

    As a wise man once said, if you give someone 2.54 centimeters, they will take 1.61 kilometers.

    What I don’t like about modern “debate” is that if you make these arguments, they are dismissed without thought.

    As much as the inch-wanter says he only wants an inch, he almost never wants an inch. The inch becomes the new normal. It is the starting point to ask for two inches.

    Oh yeah, there is another appropriate cliche: If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow

  2. trumwill says:

    It requires a willful obtuseness, in my mind, to dismiss a slippery slope argument out of hand. Yes, the slippery slope fallacy exists, but only when you say “Do A and we WILL later do be.” Ultimately, there is a calculus involved depending on how much good you expect A to do, the likelihood of B, and the degree of undesirability of B if it should occur.

  3. mike shupp says:

    Look at the bright side: Tobacco bans are much appreciated by the same sort of people who argue that making marijuana illegal is an evil infringement of their liberty.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    Smoking bans are aimed at the employees more than the students. It gives more of the employees a reason to quit and thus saves on healthcare costs. Many large hospitals have made their campuses no smoking for the same reasons.

  5. trumwill says:

    Mike, the thought had crossed my mind. If the university ever became a smoke-free employer, there’d probably be some support from the same people that would support a law banning discrimination against MJ smokers.

  6. trumwill says:

    SD, it’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think that’s it. If they wanted to go that route, they might become a smoke-free employer in addition to this. Also, since it’s a state institution, it would likely be a policy for state workers as a whole since that is how health insurance is approached.

    My wife’s hospital has a smoke-free campus. The result? An uptick in patients leaving the hospital AMA (Against Medical Advance). Which is a mixed bag. But they, too, don’t have a prohibition on employees who smoke – they just force them to leave the campus to do so.

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