Bookbyte Blog

Young woman smokingAccording to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, 1,182 colleges in the U.S. have campus-wide smoking bans. To illustrate just how much this trend has taken off recently, back in 2010, that number was only 420. (There’s got to be some joke in that second stat, right?) Not all schools have come to this decision on their own: Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, and, earlier this summer, Louisiana have all issued smoking bans to all public institutions statewide.

Before we go any further, let me clarify. Personally, I have no horse in this race. I don’t smoke but I’m not particularly bothered by the smell. I could wake up tomorrow and learn that all tobacco products had been banned in the US and it really wouldn’t change my life whatsoever. On the flipside, I could wake up tomorrow and learn that I had been transported into a noir film, or Eastern Europe, and my reaction as far as smoking is concerned would be basically non-existent.

As far as I can tell, smoking bans exist for one reason: to make smoking less culturally acceptable. After all, that’s the only way to effectively fight the practice. The less people see others smoking, whether it’s in movies or walking down the street, the less it’ll be seen as normative behavior, and the less they’ll have a desire to try.

And that’s a noble goal. There are any number of statistics I could throw out related to lung cancer, heart problems, or any other sometimes fatal condition that’s exacerbated by smoking. But I’m pretty sure you’ve heard them all before.

That being said, part of me feels sorry for smokers. I know, I know, cry me a river for all the smokers who need to huddle together in the cold X number of feet away from a building every time they want to reduce their life expectancy by a few minutes. But at the end of the day, smoking is a personal choice and everyone needs to respect that. I generally feel that the impact one person’s choice has on other non-smokers is overstated. I’m not arguing against research findings on second-hand smoke, I’m just saying that, personally, I think the name “Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights” is kind of silly, as if nonsmokers were under attack by smokers, big tobacco, and their lobbyists.

As always, the opinions above are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Bookbyte. However, my straddling-the-fence position on the topic leaves me wide open for posts from people with all sorts of perspectives to tell me how wrong I am. Fire away, commenters!

Comments on: "Campus Smoking Bans: Good or Bad?" (3)

  1. “As far as I can tell, smoking bans exist for one reason: to make smoking less culturally acceptable.”


    Lesigh. There are quite a few people that have olfactory allergies. An allergy to cigarette smoke is more common than you might think. I know if I get one good whiff my lungs think it’s time to expel from my chest, my sinuses try to run after them, and my immune system weakens. The longer the exposure, the worse everything gets, culminating in long-term severe bronchitis or borderline pneumonia.

    Smoking is a choice, but breathing isn’t. When smoking isn’t regulated on campus, just getting from class to class is like a game of battlefield with smokers being soldiers wielding smoke bombs.

  2. College Student said:

    As someone who is allergic to cigarette smoke, I could not disagree with you more. They have the right to smoke. I have the right to breath clean air as I am walking into a building. So what if they have to stand 10, 15, or 20 feet away from the door? Why is that so difficult? I have to park my car about 60 feet away from the building before I can walk in, and you don’t see me complaining that I can’t park closer. I have to walk 30+ feet to find a trash can. That’s part of life. I also wear headphones when I’m in public so that others don’t have to listen to my music. That’s called common courtesy. As far as certain locations banning it entirely? More power to them. The smokers at my school would never face such a ban … if they learned to shower and change their clothes at least once a day. (As it is, I can’t make any promises. A lot of students here don’t shower and do laundry because it’s “gamer” culture, but the smokers who copy this disgusting behavior stink up entire rooms. It’s epicly gross.) Are you even a college student? It’s interesting that you don’t see any problem, so you’ve decided no problem exists in other places. You also missed that everyone has a choice when it comes to which school they choose to attend. Smokers don’t have to attend the schools that ban their habit. Nor do they have to smoke every minute of their lives. The idea that these schools are trying to discourage the behavior by making it less socially acceptable is an unfounded claim. (Some would argue that banning it actually encourages it.) These schools don’t care. They are trying to please the majority, which is already the non-smokers who cannot stand the foul smells they are being subjected to. You are right about one thing though: Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights is a silly name. You’re simply wrong to assume that smoking isn’t invasive; it can be very invasive. It’s far more invasive than skateboarding, yet skateboarding on-campus is banned here and in many places that do not ban smoking. Should that ban also be lifted? What about drinking on campus? That’s largely banned. What about belly shirts and mini skirts? Should bans on those be lifted? Guys don’t HAVE to look…

  3. Good !! I am SICK of smelling smoke, it reeks, for those of us who DO NOT SMOKE, we shouldn’t have to smell it. And YES IT SMELLS, on your clothes, on your hair, on your breath everytime you speak, I feel like I’m getting lung cancer from being in the near vicinity of people with it on their breath & I’m SICK OF IT.

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