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Puff, Puff, Prohibition: Understanding the ethos behind a CSU anti-smoking campaign

By | October 22, 2013 | Opinion

Imagine for a moment, that you are addicted to caffeine. A seemingly harmless drug that increases heart rate in its attempt to awaken us. (You may not actually have to imagine this scenario)

Now imagine this product has been banned on your public university’s campus. The Chancellor’s Office has deemed caffeine a detriment to students’ long-term health.

Besides, secondary exposure could be harmful. A caffeine addict with a racing pulse speeds through a campus boulevard running over several students, bloody appendages and broken ankles abound!  Or, a very excited caffeine addict becomes verbally aggressive with a professor or student.

For all theses possibilities you can’t consume caffeine on campus, nor the parking lot. What should be done with this Orwellian mandate?

One could be huddled in his or her vehicle with a thermos of coffee, hoping campus security won’t notice.

This all sounds rather silly, doesn’t it?

I mean seriously, the Chancellor’s Office taking aim at caffeine on campus?

It sounds preposterous, but something almost mirroring this scenario may be coming to Fresno State.

The Academic Senate of California State University (ASCSU) has recommended the Chancellor take measures to make all California State University (CSU) campuses smoke-free.

In August, CSU Fullerton officially became a smoke-free organization. That means no smoking zones, no smoking in the parking lots (even in vehicles), no smoking anywhere.

Should this take effect at all CSU campuses, the aforementioned caffeine scenario might be a real-life occurrence.

According to the ASCSU press release, the rationale for this policy rests on the fact that the University of California has announced it would adopt a smoke-free policy on all its campuses.

All anti-smoking prohibitions, of course, finds justification in the fact that smoking has been proven harmful in both first- and second-hand exposure.

This is very idealistic and well-meaning, but, as the poet once said, “the path to hell is paved with good intentions.”

In this case, “hell” is the toll this possible prohibition will take on students and faculty who happen to inhale tobacco products.

Real talk: these people are addicted to nicotine. They have formed a habit that causes their body to need nicotine in order to think and act clearly.

It’s the same affliction caused by caffeine.

In all likelihood, these campus smokers will not suddenly quit their years-old habit.

They might switch to e-cigarettes. However this is unlikely, as e-cigarettes don’t compare in taste and texture to tobacco. Smokers may switch to smokeless tobacco products like chew, dip or snuff, but a sudden revelation and cold-turkey quit on the part of smokers will not occur.

After all, these folks will still need nicotine. They will still use products that can cause cancer. They will, in essence, still end up beholden to an addiction.

If the ASCSU and the Chancellor actually cared for students they would leave smoking zones in tact.

They  would realize it hasn’t, and never should have, the dictatorial power to stop addiction of any kind. Addiction is a purely individual endeavor.

It is my opinion that the ASCSU and the Chancellor are in favor of these measures because of the bourgeois popularity of anti-smoking campaigns.

To campaign against smoking is to save humanity, just as putting a bumper sticker on a Chevy Volt says one wants to save the rainforests.

What we forget is the pollution caused by building that Volt, the pollution caused by building the tires for the vehicle and the fact that the driver may be contributing to water-table depletion by drinking a latte made with conventionally raised cows’ milk.

Essentially, we alleviate one of the world’s ills while simultaneously contributing to others.

We forget that the federal government subsidizes tobacco; that this highly profitable product provides many jobs and revenue for many Mom and Pop proprietors.

Furthermore, tobacco provides comfort to those under stress. Imagine being a returned-veteran on-campus. Maybe tobacco is the only natural, non-narcotic stress reliever this person has since coming home with PTSD.

This could be true of people suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental afflictions.

Anyone supporting the prohibition of on-campus smoking within designated zones is contributing the fallacy that administration knows better than faculty and students.

This campus operates on citizen’s tax dollars.

To not allow these students the simple pleasure of smoking a non-narcotic, perfectly legal substances within tiny, designated zones does demonstrate a significant point:  the aristocracy of the CSU operates on the high of its supposed superiority.

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2 Responses to Puff, Puff, Prohibition: Understanding the ethos behind a CSU anti-smoking campaign

  1. Alex Shkaruba says:

    I read your article and wanted to tell you something I saw. I was leaving the library with my kids (we like the giant books on the third floor), my son (5) was running circles around me, and tried to swing around a pole (it was a no smoking sign) and it fell, almost striking a guy sitting smoking out of the wind, where the smoke wafted to the entrance. I came up and was about to apologize and changed my mind when I saw the sign the guy smoking almost got hit with. I laughed instead, and reminded him that there is a reason people are requested to smoke away from the doors. Smoking areas are a good idea, I think most smokers are too busy to think about where they are smoking to come to a rational decision about whether their smoke will affect others.

  2. Burke says:

    Another factor is that when people think “tobacco” they automatically think cigarettes. You mentioned non-smoke options, but people forget the forms of smoked tobacco not meant for inhalation. While not entirely healthy, the detriments of these are dramatically less, even second-hand. There aren’t a lot of us cigar and pipe smokers, but we do exist. Especially now that the weather’s turning nice, there are few things better than sitting on the University lawn, leaning against a tree with a book in one hand and a pipe in the other.

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