Boise State University has recently implemented a “smoke-free” campuswide policy, meaning that no one can smoke on campus, anywhere. This is a Stupid Idea. Not only because it infringes on personal liberties, but also because it enforces ideas that are Dumb, such as the idea that you are going to inhale secondhand smoke outside. The only time this happens is if you are sitting next to someone who is smoking, and the smoke blows in your face because of the wind. Period. Standing ten, five, hell, even three feet away from a smoker will not make you inhale secondhand smoke. And even if you did, there’s this ludicrous idea that just a little bit of smoke will cause terminal lung cancer or something. Grow up, people. Lung tissue rebuilds, cleans itself. A smoker who quits will have healthy lung tissue in about seven years. Yes, a doctor said this to my father, who had been smoking for the past forty years.
Of course, I’m not a proponent of smoking — it nearly killed my father. But I am a proponent of civil liberties, and the concept of being able to do whatever you want with your bodies, so long as it harms no one else (without their consent; if you want to be harmed, you’d better say so first). Smoking only harms other people when it’s inside a building. That I think we can all agree on. The smoke accumulates and after a while we’re all smoking what you’re smoking. But outside, there’s this wonderful device called Wind, which picks up the smoke and pushes it away from you. Or, if it pushes it toward you, there’s another device called Legs, which carry you to a location where the smoke is not. Crazy, but it works.
But no, Boise State had to buckle under the pressure of whatever hoity toity North End millionaires decided that smoking is bad, mmkay. After the jump is an article from the Arbiter, the BSU newspaper; a Q&A about the smoking ban. I’ve included some comments in the quotes themselves; they are in [brackets].
In October of 2008, Boise State announced its decision to become a smoke-free university. There will be no smoking in buildings, around buildings or anywhere on campus, period. Since the announcement, students have been talking and The Arbiter has been listening. With some frequently asked questions in mind, I walked through campus to the office of Ferdinand Schlapper, the Executive Director of University Health Services [AND OBVIOUSLY A FAKE NAME]. Below are the questions posed to and the responses from Mr. Schlapper [Oh god I wish his name was Richard].
[Okay, just for the sake of journalism … this is an awful opening paragraph in general. If you’re wondering why print media is dying, this is it.]
Q “What were some of the steps taken to achieve the smoking ban and for about how long has this process been in effect?” [I don’t know why they decided to put these in quotes, it really doesn’t make sense.]
A “What the President’s cabinet came back to us with was saying that we don’t want to necessarily review this policy change piecemeal, incrementally. Let’s look at where are we going eventually with this and how do we take steps toward that. The directive we were given was to collect data on campus. Look at surveying our students, our faculty and staff as to their current smoking behaviors, their attitudes, their perceptions of smoking on campus, then to collect data about the harmful impact of smoking. And then the other piece was to try and get the major governing bodies on campus to see at what level would they support moving forward with us being smoke free. So ASBSU, faculty, senate, professional staff assembly and the classified employee senate.”
So, in other words, it never was a question of “if” you were going to ban smoking entirely, it was more a question of “when.” It was one of those data collections to see how much of an impact creating a smoking ban would have, rather than to discern if it was a good idea in the first place. Top notch investigating there!
Q “Is there anything in particular you would want to have communicated to the new students here on campus?”
A “Well, one of the things we have found is that this is a great recruiting tool to come to campus. In the sense of promoting Boise State as an active, vibrant, dynamic campus, creating an environment that is conducive to their success and student learning. That research is showing that exposure to second-hand smoke and that if you’re a smoker yourself, that can really cause problems. [<– THE WORST SENTENCE EVER CONSTRUCTED.] This is for all students, faculty and staff to create that healthy environment.”
Hmm, this smells of segregation. I would have an issue with this sentence: “That research is showing that exposure to second-hand smoke and that if you’re a smoker yourself, that can really cause problems”, but honestly, I don’t know what the fuck it means. Current college students, I implore you: DON’T SLEEP THROUGH YOUR ENGLISH CLASSES.
But seriously, how is this a great recruiting tool? Was Sally Freshman wavering on the idea of coming to BSU until the smoking ban passed? What about schools like, say, Harvard, which do not implement a smoking ban[1. Almost. The Harvard Medical School is “smoke-free”, and the state of Massachusetts has an indoor smoking ban, like most states these days, but other than that, there is no ban on smoking outside on campus soil.]? Do people say, “Well, I was going to go to Harvard, but there were some gritty kids outside smoking cigarettes, and that chaffed my drawers something fierce!” Don’t be stupid. People don’t choose schools because of their health ideology. They choose schools because of their a) curriculum, and b) if they can afford it. Period.
Q “Are there any punitive systems or mechanisms in place for students who are not compliant?”
A “The overwhelming effectiveness of compliance and enforcement has to do with that change of the culture in the area, and that peer pressure. When you have a very clear policy and everyone knows where you can and cannot smoke and if you know if you’re violating it and everyone around you knows that you’re violating it, there’s a self-enforcement within the community that will step up.”
Oh, great, so now we’re going to see a bunch of “hall/grass monitors” standing around, waiting to see someone light up so they can be the new campus pet. It’s kind of ridiculous how college is becoming more like high school, while high school is becoming more like college. I hear that if you’re caught smoking at BSU, you get challenged to a rumble at the flagpole after class. Loser gets to salute their shorts.
I also love how Dick Schlapper did not actually answer the question, except to say that it will be self-enforced, which is an intentionally vague statement because they have no way to enforce it. This means that no one will do anything about it, except for said goody two-shoes[2. I never understood this phrase. Of course it’s good to have two shoes. Why does having two shoes make you a better person than someone else?] who will basically piss off everyone on campus, kind of like those parking grunts who would slap a Boot on any car they could get their grubby mitts on. In other words, no one will do anything.
Q “How do you plan to make the change actually happen, to go from ideas and paper to practice?”
A “The are several steps involved. First and foremost is an extensive promotional campaign and educational campaign.
Okay, stop here. I think “promotional” is the wrong word usage. The McRib is a promotional campaign. Transformers 2 action figures are a promotional campaign. A smoking ban is not a promotional campaign.
We been doing that since the policy was passed and the press release came out last October. We were doing promotions in the Fall and we’ve been doing them in the Spring. A combination of notices, announcements, articles in The Arbiter, talking with ASBSU, we’ve got posters on campus and we’ve got a website up. Signage will be going up all around campus. We wanted to put the signs up very close to when the policy goes into effect. The timing is important. Those will be going up around the perimeter of the campus to let everyone know they are entering a smoke-free zone, and then around key, strategic places around the campus.”
Again, you can’t promote something that people have NO CHOICE OVER. To continue the above examples, it’s like promoting the McRib sandwich and then shoving the fucker down someone’s throat.
Q “What were some of the findings you were able to located through surveys and the data you collected on the research?”
A “We had all the research data to show the harmful effect to your health but now there’s also research that shows it also impacts academic success. Smokers had lower grade point averages than non-smokers, even lower than high-risk drinkers, binge drinkers. It affects the brain chemistry also as far as depression and suicide ideation and so forth, which is a big concern for us on campus. Smokers have a five times higher rate of ’suicidality,’ or thoughts of suicide.”
This last question is just the bees knees. As Megan pointed out[3. Via Twitter, which you can’t read because she’s got the privacy mode thingy on, sucks for you, read her blog instead.], correlation does not equal causation. It’s tricky, I know, cause it looks like it does, but it doesn’t. There are a lot, a LOT, of factors which determine grade point average. I’m talking outside of school. Smoking is not one of them.
ALERT, ALERT, WE HAVE TWO FANCY PSYCHOBABBLE WORDS HERE: “ideation” and “suicidality,” both of which mean nothing, but are trying to mean, “Smokers think about committing suicide more often than non-smokers,” which, again, has nothing to do with anything. How is that related to school? Are you saying that “promoting” a smoke-free environment is magically going to make these people happier? Are you fucking kidding me? If anything it’s going to make them SHOOT THEMSELVES because they’re desperate for a cigarette! Nice work, Boise State, you’ve caused a bunch of smokers to kill themselves. How’s that for causation, bitches?
So, in conclusion[4. The best way to end a college-themed essay, don’t you think?], the smoking ban sucks turkey balls. The end.