Respect others’ decisions when it comes to smoking on campus
October 20, 2006
The issue of smoking regulations has been hotly debated for as long as I’ve been going to school on this campus — almost to the point where it has become one of those issues that people roll their eyes at when mentioned. I have read countless arguments advocating a smoking ban, but none of those arguments really took the time to examine a smoker’s point of view.
When I was a freshman (many years ago), my fellow smokers and I were able to enjoy a relaxing cigarette right outside the door, protected by the overhang from the rough elements of nature such as snow, rain or -300 degree temperatures. The next year when I moved off campus, there were new rules that stuck smokers next to extremely unattractive barrels in the middle of a path or on the grass in order to better protect the lungs of those who have chosen to live a nicotine-free life. “Stay 25 feet away from the door,” the signs said.
Or else we are all gonna die!
Yeah, maybe I am going to die, because when I want to have a cigarette I have to go stand out in the middle of nowhere as the rain pours down on my head, the harsh wind bites my nose, or someone who is mockingly coughing at the sight of me smoking doesn’t cover their mouth and their germ filled breath travels at the speed of light into my own unsuspecting eating orifice and I catch pneumonia.
But never mind me, I’m the villain.
I respect those who have chosen not to smoke. They have a hell of a lot more willpower than I do, but I do not feel like I should be constantly ridiculed because I have a bad habit. I get told time and time again that smoking is bad, it causes cancer, it stinks and I am killing myself. That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I do not totally disagree, but I don’t walk up to every 500-pound person I see at McDonald’s and tell them that those three Big Macs they are eating are probably going to cause them to die of a heart attack, or that their weight alone puts them at risk for a plethora of health problems.
I keep my mouth shut.
And yes, I understand that those 500-pound people are not going to cause me to die because of their own bad habit, nor are my intentions in life to kill an innocent bystander because they inhaled my second-hand fumes. Not only would knowing that I committed murder eat away at my conscience, but I am sure that it would affect my karma and come back to bite me in the ass somehow.
What I am saying is that I am a human being who enjoys the taste of a cigarette. I fell victim to Big Tobacco some time ago and by no means do I think it was the best decision that I ever made. But smoking does help me to focus and calm down. It is my guilty pleasure.
While I respect the right of those who do not smoke to live in a smoke-free environment, I expect a little more empathy for my own well being. Perhaps there could be a smoking hut or at least a little overhang that protects smokers from the sometimes intensely harsh weather conditions. Or maybe even a smoking room in University buildings where people could go to indulge in a cigarette when it is too cold to go outside.
Smoking blows, and the majority of the people who smoke will tell you that they would like to quit or are trying to quit. But in the meantime, it would be nice for people to be a little more empathetic and come to a compromise that makes both sides of the issue as happy and healthy as they would like to be.
Rebecca De Neui is a student at UW-River Falls.