Tobacco ban unenforceable, impractical

As the Nov. 19 smoking ban quickly approaches, controversies surrounding this new statute will, naturally, grow in intensity. I know this column will simply add fuel to that fire, however this is an issue that has received very little attention so far this school year.

The smoking ban, for those that don’t know, will make it illegal to smoke on UK property, including parking lots, fields and sidewalks. Meaning that if anyone wants to smoke they have to go completely off campus. While in theory this new edict will protect non-smokers from the second hand smoke, it is completely impractical as far as implementing. The current smoking laws are you cannot smoke inside or within 20 feet of a university building, and UK’s Good Samaritan Hospital has made their entire campus smoke free. Another provision bans the use of smokeless tobacco products such as snuff, dip, or chewing tobacco. Unlike cigarettes, these tobacco products affect no one but the user.

If anyone has ever made the trip up to UK’s Good Samaritan Hospital, they would see that the smoke free campus exists only on paper. I have seen maintenance employees, nurses and even some doctors standing on the “Smoke Free Campus” ground placards, smoking. And I’m not the only one out there who has seen someone in a hurry light up in the entrance way of a building.
I expect the enforcement of this policy to turn out much the same as the alcohol policy, especially on game days at Commonwealth Stadium. Although the administration has not definitively said how they are going to enforce the new ban, there has been talk of a special commission whose sole job would be to enforce this ban and make sure it is followed to the letter. Is this going to get us any closer to President Todd’s goal of making UK a Top 20 Public Research University, or will it simply continue the administration’s trend of raising students’ tuition and squandering resources that could be better used somewhere else?

Now I understand that there are those of you out there who are going to ask, “Why should I have to smell their smoke,” or many similar questions, and being a non-smoker, I share many of the same sentiments when it comes to enclosed spaces. However, we are talking about wide open outdoors spaces; parking lots, Stoll Field, the open area in front of the library, it will all be off-limits to smokers. I don’t like getting a face full of cigarette smoke, but making the entire campus off-limits to smokers is absurd. The administration could, at the very least since smokers pay the same amount to come here as non-smokers, give them designated smoking areas.

John Stuart Mill, an English philosopher that had a huge influence on our founding fathers, once described something known as the Harm Principle, which states that a government (or in this case university administration) should only prevent an individual from engaging in acts that harm others, and not acts that harm only themselves. By completely banning tobacco products from campus, including smokeless tobacco, the university administration is violating this principle. It is quite clear to this writer that the new smoking ban is a lavish misuse of student funds and other university assets that could be used to better benefit our campus community. If they enforce the new ban as well as they have the previous ones, I think all of you smokers will be just fine to light up anywhere on campus.

Matthew Fox is a political science, and psychology sophomore. E-mail [email protected]

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