Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Education better than ban

By Alexander Delegas

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You may have noticed an email from University of Massachusetts Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy about an upcoming smoking ban. It is a pathetic attempt by the University to govern personal behavior.

Prohibition is never the answer; education is the best way to alter people’s habits.

Over the past 20 years there has been incredible success lowering the smoking rate across this country and it is due largely to an excellent awareness campaign that includes TV commercials, health education, warning labels on cigarettes, bans on smoking indoors and a myriad of products designed to help users quit.      

Banning all tobacco products on campus is a terrible idea, it’s unenforceable and a violation of our personal freedom.

I am not a smoker nor do I support cigarette smoking. Smoking is a disgusting habit and we should be doing everything we can to curb its use.

The sentiment that the smoking ban is founded on is noble. It seeks to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the amount of litter on campus. They are worthy ideals, but this rule is a clumsy tool and will not succeed at achieving either of the designed goals.

The only way to promote healthy behavior is through education; smokers have to choose to quit. Prohibition never works. It didn’t work for alcohol, it doesn’t work for drugs and it won’t work for tobacco.

Prohibition leaves a window for people to be “badasses” by breaking the rules. For example, underage drinking is way more exciting before you turn 21. If you drink a lot in high school you’re a rebel, if you drink a lot as an adult you’re looked down upon.

What about all the cigarettes butts covering the ground? Banning cigarettes will reduce that, right? Wrong.

The first thing that UMass will do is remove the cigarette butt columns outside every building. Since the rule is voluntary, people won’t stop smoking. The amount of litter will increase because people won’t have a place to throw out their cigarettes.

Others argue that banning smoking, though unenforceable, will set a tone that that kind of behavior is not condoned. The message it really sends is that UMass wishes to impose its own moral choices on you.

The ban is not morality though; morality is about how you treat others, not about how you treat yourself. If cigarettes smokers want to smoke outside, let them. It’s wrong and misguided to think this new rule will change anything.

The fact that people must voluntarily comply means this new rule is not going to be followed. In Boston and New York, the cities have adopted similar policies. It has not stopped anyone from smoking in parks or on the sidewalks.

UMass’s rule goes further than cigarettes; it includes e-cigarettes, dip, chewing tobacco and other smokeless products. Students would be required to leave campus to consume them since students won’t even smoke in their own cars. Given that all freshmen are required to live on campus and a large number of upperclassman live in the dorms, it’s incredibly impractical to have to leave campus every time you want a nicotine fix.

The new rule is imposed on students who were not even included in the decision. It was handed down by the Faculty Senate with hardly any public discussion. The faculty is not required to live on campus. It is not fair that a bunch of commuters get to decide the rules for those who spend every day on the campus.

This ban has been compared by the Faculty Senate to the voluntary compliance request to stop putting chewing gum in water fountains. Once the signs went up, people stopped putting their gum there, so therefore, the Senate expects the same thing to happen with cigarettes. But it is not a comparable example.

First of all, cigarettes are extremely addictive; chewing gum is not, in most cases. Chewing gum was not banned; the faculty just asked people to stop putting gum in water fountains. Disposing chewing gum in water fountains is comparable to banning smoking indoors as it is rude to impose your disgusting habit on others.

Not allowing smoking inside is designed to protect people from being exposed to secondhand smoke, a known carcinogen. Banning outdoor tobacco use only protects users from themselves.

It is not the job of any government or institution. It is an extreme example of the nanny state that liberals are often criticized for.
If UMass is really committed to public health it should just stick to supporting students who want to quit and continue education in the dangers of smoking.

Alexander Delegas is a Collegian contributor. He can be reached at [email protected]



11 Responses to “Education better than ban”

  1. Debbie on February 19th, 2013 12:39 pm

    A refreshing story for a change. Thank you


  2. UMass Student on February 19th, 2013 1:24 pm

    All you managed to do was sound like a whiny, over privileged child. The university can do what it wants, you pay them to be here. If this were free, then maybe you had a point.

    Please, for the sake of your own future grow up, be a man, and come to terms with the fact that life isn’t fair.


  3. Reader on February 19th, 2013 1:56 pm

    Wanna try backing up ANY of your statements with facts, relevant studies, or anything other than whiny speculation?


  4. Josh on February 19th, 2013 2:36 pm

    Awesome column man!


  5. Alex Delegas on February 19th, 2013 2:38 pm

    Well thanks for your input “UMass Student.” It’s precisely because we pay to be here that we should have a say in the rules; “taxation without representation” illustrates that principle.


  6. Geez on February 19th, 2013 2:42 pm

    Let’s all take a chill pill. This is an OpEd. The writer is entitled to his opinion, and by no means is he required to back up his opinions with “facts, relevant studies,” or anything else. This is not a regular column or a news story. If you do not agree with his opinion, you can state that without sounding like you are intolerant towards other people’s stances. There is no point in attacking someone due to a difference in opinion.


  7. UMass Grad on February 19th, 2013 3:30 pm

    Agreed that the ban is fairly ridiculous, and certainly unenforceable.

    That said, you seem to hand-wave away the annoyance of outdoor smokers, which seems to me the most reasonable excuse for the ban. Not only is it gross to walk past and around smokers on a campus as densely populated as UMass (to say nothing at all of folks with allergies), smoking has also become aesthetically unpleasant these days. UMass can try to cultivate its image however the administrators like, and the argument that a smoke-free campus is aesthetically pleasing to visitors does not seem so unreasonable.


  8. UMass Grad #2 on February 22nd, 2013 9:11 am

    @UMass Grad: Do you really think that smoking should be banned on campus because it is “annoying” (to some) and “aesthetically unpleasing” (to some)? Isn’t this a slippery slope?

    Also, as far as “all of [those] folks with allergies” are concerned: could you please cite a relevant study on allergic reactions to minimal exposure to cigarette smoke (i.e. from walking past someone smoking outdoors)?


  9. mason on February 25th, 2013 4:17 am

    Smoking should be banned and smokers ostracized and shamed( to discourage them from their unhealthy habit) and states and cities should go further as they have done in asheville(smoking is illegal in the downtown area) and ban smoking in entire areas and eventually force smokers to only be able to smoke in their homes or cars.

    Also smoking should be outlawed. Certain people are always talking about how corporations are evil and want to hurt people and pollute the environment with toxins. Yet when you have an actual example of this occuring, nobody cares. The tobacco industry is entirely centered around a product that is designed to be as addictive as possible and the only consequence of using this product is lung damage,cancer and cardiovascular disease.

    We should change our view from slowly allowing tobacco smoke to be less tolerant to outlawing it’s use.


  10. Megan on February 26th, 2013 11:53 am

    I personally think it would be wonderful to be able to walk to class in the morning without getting a face full of secondhand smoke from the person walking in front of me. Or to approach the entrance of an academic building without walking through a cloud of it, as people ignore the signs that tell them not to smoke within 20 feet of the building. Sure it’s a personal choice to smoke and I have no problem with those who do, as long as they are respectful of nonsmokers in the general vicinity. Simply being outside when you smoke doesn’t mean you aren’t affecting other people.


  11. Ken on March 4th, 2013 11:33 pm

    I think a ban is unnecessary, funny how the argument against the smoking ban is essentially the same argument used against gun control…


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