Smoking gun for tobacco ban

WSU Pullman’s campus-wide tobacco ban, which began on Aug. 22, makes it difficult for students, staff and visitors to enjoy on-campus activities.

You sit in class – jittery, restless and unable to concentrate.You’re trying your hardest to pay attention, but find that you are completely incapable of doing so. Frustrated, you sling your backpack over your shoulder and leave the lecture hall.

Giving in to your addiction, you walk outside for a smoke. Only, you are no longer able to walk just 25 feet from the building – now, you must walk off campus.

What was once a 10 to 15 minute smoke break is now significantly longer.

In fact, it has become so much longer that, by the time you return from what was once a “quick-break,” the lecture will have long since concluded.

This has become a reality to student smokers here at WSU.

As of Aug. 22, a new tobacco- and nicotine-free policy went into effect on the Pullman campus.

Steve Hansen, assistant chief of the WSU Police, wrote in an email that his department doesn’t enforce the new tobacco policy.

“Since it is not really a violation of the law, there aren’t any consequences from the police,” Hansen wrote. “However, if the police are called to a reported violation, the conduct may be referred to the person’s supervisor if they are a staff member or to student conduct (if they are a student).”

Instead, it’s largely up to the WSU Pullman community to confront smokers on campus, making it difficult for the policy to be enforced.

Smoking bans are often propelled by the dangers of secondhand smoke, yet this policy also bans smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, which do not put others at risk.

This policy unnecessarily targets smokeless alternatives, making it difficult for students, staff and visitors to deal with their nicotine habit.

In recent years, the media has begun to portray smoking as a nasty habit and has condemned the individuals who continue to smoke.

This tobacco ban further adds to the disgusted looks and glares that students smoking on campus have already been unfairly subjected to.

By condemning a behavior which is not only completely legal, but also fairly common among young adults, a portion of the student body is being wrongly persecuted.

Additionally, by forcing student smokers to leave campus every time they need to smoke, the university is limiting the time these individuals are able to devote to both academics as well as extracurricular activities.

As a result, these students may begin to feel like outcasts. When you live on campus, the university – both literally and metaphorically – becomes your home.

By forcing student smokers to leave campus on such a regular basis, we are, in a way, detaching them from their school as well as their peers.

Considering the fact that WSU requires incoming first year students to live on campus, participate in ALIVE Orientation sessions over the summer, and enroll in “First Year Focus” courses, I would assume that isolating and detaching students from the university would be the last thing they would want to do.

However, apparently student smokers are an exception.

Students are not the only individuals who are being impacted by this ridiculous policy.

Some members of the Pullman community who love and support WSU are also put in uncomfortable positions – having to leave football games and walk off campus every time they need to smoke a cigarette is even harder for the older generation, who’ve maintained their habits much longer than college students.

While the original intentions behind passing this policy were good ones – such as reducing secondhand smoke – the policy is hard to enforce and does more harm than good for tobacco and nicotine users on campus.

Smoking is a personal choice, a choice which the university is attempting to take away from us.

As college students who are 18 and older, we have the legal right to choose for ourselves.

Every student, smoker or not, should care about this violation of student rights.

This tobacco- and nicotine-free policy is nothing more than an attempt to further isolate and discriminate against individuals who have previously developed the habit of smoking.

Think about this for a moment – we all know that smoking is bad for us, just as we know junk food is bad for us.

So, what happens when WSU removes candy, chips, cookies, and other junk foods from the dining halls and markets here on campus because they feel as though the presence of these foods tempts students to make unhealthy decisions?

What happens when your rights are violated in a way that you deem relevant to your life? Then will you fight?

Emily Hogan is a freshman genetics and cell biology major from Harrington, Delaware. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.