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Cigar Rant – Tobacco-Free Campuses

In the last few years, there’s been a rash—yes, I hate it enough to call it that—of colleges and universities throughout the country that have been enacting smoke- and tobacco-free policies. The most recent, as far as I can tell from my Google news feed, were the University of Montana Western, University of South Carolina Upstate, and University of Texas at Arlington. Each of the aforementioned institutions of higher learning has banned ALL tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes (which I personally don’t even consider a tobacco product) and smokeless tobacco products.

First off, I can understand banning smoking in campus buildings. The dorms are indoor, private property, so the owner of that property can decide to do whatever they want with it. Maybe your neighbors don’t like the smell of cigar smoke, or maybe the custodians are sick of scooping cigarette butts out of the urinals. For whatever reason, it’s indoors, so it’s a completely different scenario.

But banning smoking on the quads, or on the walkways between buildings? That’s policing the air, and even though many state and local governments have started doing it, it’s still ridiculous and authoritarian.

I know a lot of people are going to argue that it’s a “public health” issue, but this is beyond that, and not just because the research behind the dangers of secondhand smoke is tenuous at best. If the people who ran colleges cared about the health of their students, they’d feed them something a little more substantial than prison food (literally, in some cases).

Last time I checked, college is supposed to be the first time in many peoples’ lives when they’re finally able to do the things their parents frowned upon for the last 18 years. College, at least in my case, was when I picked up my first decent cigar and thought, “Huh, this doesn’t taste like that piece of crap I accidentally inhaled when I was 13!”

But that’s beside the point. The majority of college students are legal adults. To tell them that they’re not allowed to smoke, or even worse, chew tobacco (which has absolutely NO health effects on the people around you, documented or otherwise) is an infringement on their rights, and has nothing to do with public health. It’s a matter of controlling people and regulating their behavior.

Anyway, I hope that the forward-thinking students at these campuses and the countless others that have enacted smoking, er, tobacco bans, find a way to fight back against these unnecessary and restrictive policies and make their voices heard. For those students whose schools haven’t banned tobacco (yet), smoke ‘em while you’re still allowed to.