By Jaime Williams
“The times they are a changin’”—Bob Dylan
Currently those changes are a wave of the health-conscious getting together and tackling the issue of smoking in public areas, namely our beloved EWU campus. If you have been even remotely tuned in to the media over the last 20 years, you have to know that smoking is bad for your health and folks are concerned for the general public’s welfare.
While traversing campus, scurrying to class, it is difficult not to notice that the construction site of the new Patterson Hall is clearly marked as a no smoking area. Not necessarily the first group of individuals I would have expected to lead the way in this movement, these folks are a refreshing example of addressing the issue of productivity and smoking in the workplace today. Some employers will not hire smokers, so a ban on campus seems a natural progression.
How does our society make a statement? We do so by legislating. How do we change public behavior? That’s a little tricky, but education is a strong tool. Currently, we are seeing the powers that be manipulate price to drive down demand and enact legislation that restricts where the behavior is considered legal.
These approaches are not 100 percent effective, for example: guns, prostitution and drugs. But they are the tools we have to work with. In Mexico the packs of cigarettes have pictures of severe medical situations like dead babies and sick people printed on the labels. This makes it a little difficult to look cool when you whip out a pack with the gross picture and light up. Joe Camel has left the building.
Hopefully concern will be given to those who imbibe that currently live on campus. Anytime we sacrifice civil liberties there should be conversations that address the issues at hand. The ASEWU appears to be taking an even-handed approach to this issue. Perhaps the administration could provide a segue period in which there will be designated smoking areas on campus. I myself not being a traditional student (old guy) can attest to the fact that not so long ago smoking was viewed in a significantly more favorable light. We are seeing a cultural shift. Smoking is difficult to justify by the pleasure it brings as opposed to the undeniable medical effects and costs it burdens our society with.
Considering the harm principle and the effects of secondhand smoke, a simple opposition to tobacco consumption on campus seems workable. The bottom line is smoking on campus is on its way out.