Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Smoking Ban Thoughts

Check this out. It's from the short-lived Andy Dick Show on MTV a few years ago, and I think it's appropriate for what I'm going to talk about.


It seems like the only real purpose of the smoking ban was to keep things politically correct.

All the time I see people smoking on campus. Don't worry; this does not bother me. But everyone made such a big deal about the smoking ban, so shouldn't it be enforced? There are always folks enjoying a drag strolling through the Pentacrest, or chilling outside of dorm buildings, or probably even walking back to the dorms. If this smoking ban is as big an issue as everyone made it out to be, I would expect on-campus smoking to be put out just like bar-smoking was. But it hasn't, and I think this shows that smoking doesn't bother as many people as we earlier thought.

Granted, it's a lot easier to enforce the smoking ban in bars, because it would be obvious if a person lit up in a bar. But still, after the ban, smoking in bars shot down to zero. Smoking on campus is probably exactly where it was before the ban. This is because the only people who actually cared about this issue were the groups who dictated the coverage of this issue; those people were the extremists on each end of the spectrum: either the anti's who claimed asthma and slightly-irritated eyes, or the traditionalists who thought that cocktails and cigarettes had gone together for years and should for years more.

The rest of us probably didn't care what happened with public smoking. So officials did what they had to do. They kept the peace, made people happy, and instituted the ban. And now that it's in effect, the only way it will have an effect is if it is enforced. What are people supposed to think when there is absolutely no smoking in bars, but virtually the same amount happening on campus?

Well, I'll tell you what I think. I think the smoking ban is a law that holds no real weight in the greater scheme of things. Indoor public places should be smoke-free, but if we're trying to set an example for the rest of the nation, we should enforce the smoking ban everywhere it's supposed to be enforced.

1 comment:

Michael J. McFadden said...

They're not pushing enforcement on campuses right now because the goal at this point is to simply rack up the numbers of "successful" bans. This has several effects:

1) It prevents in-depth questioning of the need for the bans. The university community is dangerous because students are educated enough to actually look behind the sound bites and discover the lies at the base of the bans. That's something antismoking organizations definitely do NOT want to see.

2) With every ban passed it becomes easier to get another. A few months ago they pushed bans by saying "Over 140 campuses have banned smoking!" Now they're saying "Over 160 campuses have banned smoking!" They'll continue like this until they hit a point where they can stake a claim to campus bans being "the norm" and then they'll be able to go back and say, "Hey, there's no longer any DEBATE about the ban - we've ALL accepted it - so now it's just a question of how best to enforce it."

3)Once they get a significant number of schools with campus bans they can rack up the blackmail level on colleges that resist, threatening to publicize the schools as "encouraging addiction" among their students and threatening to notify parents of prospective students of a school's "dangerous policy."

There's no sound medical reason for outdoor bans and actually no sound medical reason for forbidding smoking areas indoors either. Even most extremists will admit, when pressed, that as long as a room is separately ventilated with an exhaust fan there is no significant amount of smoke that would escape and attack innocent lungs in other parts of a building. The true purpose of the bans has nothing to do with the health of nonsmokers and everything to do with the social engineering technique of "denormalization," a term that Antismokers avoieded using publicly until the last two years or so but which has been behind many of their efforts for a decade or more. That's why you'll always see stout resistance to any plan that offers comfortable indoor accomodations where smokers and their friends can gather and relax: it doesn't fit the desired model of making them huddle out by a dumpster.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"