Students, smokers – A few words on smoking on campus

Published by the QMessenger on 25th November 2013.
Following QMessenger’s last week’s article on smoking, I believe it is important to continue the debate.
We are all concerned about public health. From hygiene to fresh air, we are increasingly keen on inviting the state to step in and regulate in our daily life. While some believe their liberties are compromised, others believe they are enhanced. As a heart-bleeding liberal, I incline to the latter view. Though as with most things in life, this issue is not black and white.
I am proud of the fact that our campus is a non-smoking campus. It frees non-smokers from the risks of passive smoking, creates a refreshing environment in stark contrast with the rest of Mile End, and lives up to the standard of a prominent university in the UK. The arguments are similar to those of banning smoking in public places. The Ban came into force in 2007, and the debate has not re-opened thereafter.
Indeed, smoking cigarettes damages the human body, risks heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, etc. Yet consuming too much alcohol could also bring fatal consequences, perhaps more so than smoking; and our university bar – Drapers – disregards this fact by selling alcohol relentlessly to students. Why the unfairness?
Of course, smokers should accept that smoking does not affect the smoker alone, and plenty of people deeply detest it. Plus, the College has to fulfil its legal obligation. Nonetheless, the smoking ban should only be enforced in enclosed premises (i.e. places with a roof or ceiling), and not open area (i.e. Library Square; and anyone who thinks the smoking ban is enforced is living in a parallel universe). That is why the university is reviewing its policy on smoking. This presents us with an opportunity to strike a balance between the two interest groups here. For instance, Stratford City, Westfield provides smokers with a separate area to accommodate their need, and this policy is well received by visitors. I believe a similar model should be considered and applied here at QM.
Despite my enthusiasm for this proposal, I do not hold a hostile view against QM’s smoking restrictions, or indeed the Smoking Ban. I did not write this article out of outrage. I believe it has a genuine influence on constructing a culture of non-smoking among students. But let us not forget we are also an institution that believes in free thinking, choice and individuality. I was not coerced into studying my degree at QM, I chose to do so. Academics do not bar students from expressing personal views in their work, so long as the conclusion is drawn fairly. Likewise, students should not be pressured into smoking or not smoking, rather, each individual should decide for him/herself, and take responsibility for the consequences.
This article is no masterpiece. Writing like this will fall short of getting a Third. All I aim to do is to express my views on the issue, because from my observation, it is potentially dividing our community.

2 thoughts on “Students, smokers – A few words on smoking on campus

  1. The smoking ban at my son’s college here in the US is not enforced in the open air areas, but it is enforced inside any of the buildings. To be honest, I could care less one way or the other. There are far more important concerns on campus than smoking. Enjoyed your post and your point of view. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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