Students protest smoking ban

Students passed out free cigarettes and carried signs bearing slogans like, “Smoke, chew, it’s up to you,” Wednesday on the Tempe campus to protest the University-wide tobacco ban that will go into effect Aug. 1, 2013, according to a press release Thursday.

ASU Students for Liberty president Blaine Thiederman said his group organized with the Young Americans for Freedom to protest a policy that would infringe on student rights.

“This isn’t an issue of smoking so much as an issue of personal liberties,” said Thiederman, a nonsmoker. “One step toward infringing on our personal liberties is just the first step of many.”

People know the potential health consequences when they decide to smoke and should be free to make that choice, Thiederman said.

“Everyone wants to be happy, and only they know how to make themselves happy,” he said. “That’s the entire importance of liberty … People aren’t always healthy, and it’s because it makes them happy.”

While students should be allowed to smoke, Thiederman said people also have the right to breathe clean air and it is important to balance these seemingly dichotomous rights.

Keeping designated smoking areas around campus is the best way to balance both of these rights, Thiederman said.

Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Freedom have started a petition to repeal the tobacco-free policy.

Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Kevin Salcido said in an email that student concern about the tobacco ban can be directed to the Undergraduate Student Government, but the initiative is moving forward.

The movement toward a tobacco-free campus started as a student initiative led by the Health and Counseling Student Action Committee, which collected more than 3,000 signatures and was supported by the student government, Salcido said.

“Tobacco use is a documented public health hazard, and ASU is dedicated to providing a healthy environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors. … In addition, ASU regulates other behaviors while on campus such as the use of alcohol,” he said. “A tobacco-free campus would contribute to better health, increased productivity and decreased use of sick time.”

ASU Police will not be involved in enforcing the tobacco ban, Assistant Police Chief James Hardina said.

Freshman political science major and member of Students for Liberty Jared Howell hands out a cigarette after a student signs the proposition against the smoking ban on ASU campuses during the Students for Liberty anti-smoking ban protest near the MU on Wednesday afternoon. The ban is scheduled to go in effect next fall. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

“We don’t enforce any University policies,” Hardina said.

According to Thursday’s press release, ASU will use social enforcement to administer the ban, and students could receive sanctions through the University for repeatedly violating it.

Other tobacco-free universities have effectively used the social enforcement strategy, the press release said.

Business communication freshman Natalie Deluca said she supports a tobacco-free campus.

“It’s good to have a campus without smoking because (smokers) also are harming everyone around them,” she said.

Deluca said the University should help students quit smoking by providing support groups and education.

“Like any addiction, it’s bad for you and they should stop,” she said.

Political science senior Matt Adams said the smoking ban is an infringement on personal rights.

“(Smoking on campus) doesn’t bother anyone,” he said.

Adams said he plans to smoke on campus and will ignore the ban when it goes into effect next fall.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. Thursday
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Reach the reporter at tnhoman@asu.edu