A designated smoking area on HSU campus. | Robert Brown

Reject the smoking ban

HSU's smoking ban endangers students and the environment

By | Phil Santos

HSU students should take the campus tobacco ban, roll it up and smoke it. The ban prohibits any tobacco products from being used on campus property. This ban intends to promote air quality and general health, but that comes at a cost.

The ban means that smokers have to travel long distances to be compliant with city and campus policies.

HSU student Michael Erickson said, “The campus police say to go about a mile into the community forest, because that’s where it becomes city, not university property.”

Let’s think about the implications of this from a smoker’s perspective in a hypothetical situation.

It’s late at night and you’re in your dorm craving a smoke. Instead of heading down to the well-lit gazebo to smoke, you now have to traipse a mile into the community forest. So you suit up, pray the charge on your phone will light your way and head out for a late night hike into the forest alone. This sounds like the beginning of a horror movie!

“Being by yourself can be kind of sketchy with some of the people out there,” said Erickson. “There are definitely safety concerns.”

A smoking ban that forces smokers into vulnerable situations like solo night hikes must be revised.

I can just see the headline now, “HSU student assaulted in community forest while smoking.”

This is only one unintended consequence of the blanket ban on tobacco. And if there is one unintended consequence, there are certainly others.

Another consequence of the ban is an increase in loose cigarette butts.

“People are going to smoke no matter what you do,” said HSU student Marek Halaj. “But now there are cigarette butts all over the place, because people no longer give a shit.”

This is because without designated smoking areas, smokers have resorted to unconventional locations.

When asked about the impact of loose cigarette butts, Erickson, who is an environmental science and management major, said “the big thing would be water pollution.”

Cigarette butts contain concentrations of various chemicals like arsenic, lead, acetone, ammonia and so on. They eventually wash into our waterways after they’ve been flicked on the ground. Those chemicals are then leached from the butts into the water. Let’s be real here, Halaj is right when he says that people are going to smoke no matter what you do. So if we don’t want people putting these chemicals in our lungs, why pass a policy that puts them in our water?

Where else are students putting their butts?

“In trash cans,” said Erickson. “There’s more of a fire risk now.”

All it takes is one cigarette left unextinguished for a campus fire to break out. Additionally, if students need to disguise their smoking, chances are they’ll look for well-covered areas, which means places where a fire could be started. When it’s peak fire season, do we really want students sneaking into the trees where a dropped ember could mean a forest fire?

So what are the alternatives? The CSU policy is a full smoking ban, so there are none. This means all of these issues will continue to be a reality. Erickson and Halaj both agree that designated smoking areas are a must.

“Properly placed smoking sections away from major areas shouldn’t be a problem” said Erickson.

This would ensure that asthmatic students or otherwise have greatly reduced their exposure to smoke while satisfying smokers with designated areas. How we can make that happen is a hard call as the CSU is likely firm on the smoking ban. But I’m a fan of civil disobedience, which speaks loudly. My suggestion? To hell with it. Smoke ’em if you got ’em!


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