Against the Smoking Ban: an issue of students' rights
by Alyssa Jackson | published Apr. 15th, 2014
On January 31, Donna Rubin, assistant vice president for student wellness, and Mike Stojkovic, assistant director for wellness, presented a possible change to SG involving the current smoking policy at RIT. This new policy would ban the use of all tobacco products on university owned property. If approved by Institute Council on May 7, students would no longer be able to smoke tobacco, pipes, e-cigarettes or hookah after a 12 to 18 month transition.
At the SG meeting Rubin could not produce adequate information from the survey done by the committee she co-chairs for the smoking policy. When asked who the survey was issued to, Rubin stated that it was only given to international students. This is a complete disregard of the students on campus currently. Despite all of these inconsistencies in the gathering of student opinion and despite the fact that a ban on smoking tobacco products on a college campus is ludicrous enough, that is not my main problem with the proposed ban. My problem is that the Institute, in proposing this ban and going forward with it, is treating us like children.
This isn’t high school anymore, folks. A good majority of us have part time or full time jobs, buy our own groceries, cook our own food and have to pay bills with little help from our parents. The purpose of college is to get students ready for life after school when we have to be completely independent. In banning a legal activity like smoking tobacco on campus property, RIT is not adequately getting us ready for the “real world” because they are not treating us like real adults.
It’s especially frustrating that the ban would include all university owned property, which would deny students the right to smoke even outside their own on-campus apartments.
I should state here somewhere that I am a non-smoker. I’m allergic to tobacco smoke and can’t even be around it without obtaining a painful headache. I don’t like smoking and I think it’s bad for you. Arguably, so is drinking alcohol, but I don’t see the institute trying to ban alcohol from our of-age students. The World Health Organization estimated that there were approximately 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths in 2013 throughout the world. These deaths include accidents that have occurred to others that may have not been drinking, which could be comparable to secondhand smoking. However, if you’re 21 on RIT’s campus there is no ban on drinking. Why, if you are 18, should there be a ban on smoking?
One of the main arguments for the smoking ban is that students who don’t smoke should not be subjected to the secondhand smoke of those who do. However, there are ways to satisfy this problem without taking away students freedom. RIT barely enforces the current smoking policy. Doing so would alleviate many of the complaints as students would have respective areas to smoke in that other students would be able to avoid. Rubin stated that other campuses that decided to not ban smoking outright ended up being disappointed with their decision, but RIT isn’t every other college. From the plus-minus grading system to switching to semesters we seem to be continually disregarding the opinion of our own current students in favor of being more like other institutions. This has to end.
My argument isn’t that smoking is good or that everyone should smoke if they feel like. I’m arguing that RIT decides to treat our students like the adults that we are supposed to be and allow us to make our own choices when it comes to smoking tobacco, because deciding to ban students from smoking is not the way to do so. RIT’s disregard of what its students want cannot continue to go unnoticed and this smoking ban is just yet another example.
On May 7, the Institute Council will decide whether the RIT campus should become completely tobacco free. Use the next few months of voice your opinion. Talk to your SG representatives or reach out to Rubin or Mike Stojkovic, assistant director for wellness, who presented the proposed plan to SG.
Disagree? Read the opposing viewpoint by clicking here.