I envision myself as a rebel, and the tobacco-free policy gives me the perfect opportunity to act on this impulse. The new tobacco-free campus policy is nothing more than an attempt at the subjugation of individuality. Breathe it up ‘cats. That foul stench is not tobacco, but the smell of freedom being wrenched from the hands of students.
If Texas State officials can regulate personal behavior, what comes next? Will it be the extinguishing of diversity and political opinions, deemed as mental illness? What about the banning of free speech because someone is offended? Even political science lecturer Julia Decker, who is opposed to the ban, is forced to look over her shoulder as she lights her Richmond cigarette.
“Smoking is not illegal, yet I feel that I must hide behind corners to smoke between classes so that I can make it on time, which is frankly silly and ridiculous,” Decker said.
Students, faculty and staff can spend more than 12 hours a day on campus. Being forced to leave each time we want to smoke is impractical. University officials treat smokers like red-headed stepchildren on the matter. In a place where all people should be welcome, university officials are telling us we have no right to our personal habits.
The American College Health Association conducted a survey in 2010 to assess student health behaviors and perceptions. Students from 139 schools participated in the survey that asked if students would be in favor of becoming a smoke-free campus. At Texas State, 1,310 students completed the survey for a response rate of 27.4 percent.
One-third of our student body polled was not in favor, and their opinions were completely disregarded.
Some have lost loved ones as a result of tobacco use and they should not be offended. Smoking is unhealthy, but it’s healthier than the fascist regulation of personal behavior by an outside force.
Violations can be reported by any observer, so officials are expecting us to help enforce a policy designed to destroy civil liberties.
“It’s extremely prejudicial and would have been more widely accepted if it had been a vote handed down by ASG or the student body,” said one smoker, who preferred to remain anonymous. “We should be able to cohabitate peacefully, whether by designated smoking zones or just being polite to one another.”
The blatant violation of civil liberties is not the only issue with this ban. Texas carbon dioxide emissions are the highest in the nation, said Professor Decker, and if the true motive for this policy is to improve the health of the university community, there are bigger fish to fry than an individual smoking a cigarette. This ban represents the desires of university officials, not the students, even with the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Too many of us are unwilling to get our feet wet for fear of a backlash, but until we stand together, this pattern of control will not end with tobacco. This ban is unacceptable and impractical. Smokers will continue to use tobacco on campus. To those standing in the way of my civil liberties, catch me if you can, but don’t bat an eye when I scream and kick for the rights of my fellow tobacco users.