Editorial: New smoking ban makes little difference

Next fall, ASU will join Maricopa County Community Colleges in banning smoking tobacco on campus. What began as Motion 2012-58 in 2010 was finally approved by the University Senate late September.

Despite much speculation and controversy over the smoking ban, Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Kevin Salcido said the ban will be formally announced in November.

The Senate has been very quiet about the whole situation, refusing to take steps to ease the transition. Students don’t have an opportunity to react, adjust or protest. Even when news of the smoking ban became widely known, the Senate still hadn’t disclosed any outline to reveal how it plans to enforce the new University law.

How does the University plan to enforce their policies? Does it plan on citing students at first offense? If not, how many warnings does it take to warrant a citation and how much will a citation cost anyway? Although the ban is almost two years in the making, it seems flimsy and wish-washy, impulsive and ill-conceived, especially since the Senate’s primary way of enforcing it is through “education.”

For the generation who grew up on D.A.R.E. and other anti-smoking campaigns, smoking is becoming less attractive anyway. The decision to ban smoking seems symbolic in nature. After all, ASU’s student government doesn’t really want to invest the money in designated smoking areas for all four campuses — perhaps five, including the new Havasu campus. The ban becomes an economically efficient way for the Senate to take a stance on smoking. They can reap the benefits of power, implementing weighty policies that drastically affect students’ lives without really making serious efforts to execute their policies.

It can be argued that the new policy was founded in good intentions. Second-hand smoke can have adverse effects on health and public universities have the right to regulate substance usage on their campuses. The Senate’s ban is a good-natured attempt to lessen the amount of smoke on campus and to dissuade smokers from sucking on cancer-sticks. But cigarette smoke is much different from other substances used by college students, like alcohol or marijuana. No one has ever been so smashed by cigarettes, he or she committed a violent crime, like sexual assault; neither has anyone ever been so faded by tobacco, he or she forgot to go to class.

Perhaps the smoking ban is more for students living in campus dormitories. Perhaps this is the University’s way of extending more authority to community assistants that have a hard time managing residents of student housing.

It’s more likely that the smoking ban is a mere public relations stunt without any teeth behind it, an empty promise that won’t clear the air on campus.

 

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