4-3-18 Smoking on Campus

Despite LSU's tobacco-free campus policy, students feel that smoking is still prevalent on campus.

Marlboros, Juuls and Swisher Sweets — the University banned all of these products and more in August 2014 to curb student nicotine and tobacco use. Although the Center for Disease Control states that the number of adult American smokers decreased between 2005 to 2016, almost 38 million adults still smoked in 2016. Assuming the decreasing trend continued in the following years, this number is likely even smaller in 2019. Yet with the rising popularity of Juuls and other vape products, it’s doubtful that the 38 million is decreasing at such a rapid pace.

With over 30,000 students enrolled at the University over, it’s statistically improbable for the University to have no students that smoke or vape, but that’s only smokers in the student body. When adding faculty and staff, the number of smokers becomes even larger.

Although the University put the ban into effect in 2014, it’s a rule that is rarely enforced. When walking through campus, one easily spots students and employees smoking, whether in the Quad, behind campus buildings or in parking lots.

Since the University decides to simply look the other way when faced with these smokers, the tobacco ban questions the legitimacy of campus regulations. Students know they can get away with smoking on campus, so it’s only a matter of time before they test the limits of other University rules.

I recommend an easy fix: on-campus designated smoking areas. These would circumvent such problems and stops otherwise rule-abiding students from violating campus regulations. I’m not advocating the use of tobacco or nicotine products; rather, I’m advocating the freedom of students to take part in an activity that already exists in many of their daily schedules.

Smoking causes bad breath, heart disease, reproductive failure and a veritable hit list of other health problems, but so does fast food, and the University hasn’t banned the Big Mac. In fact, the University endorses unhealthy eating habits by allowing such chains as McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A to take up residency in the LSU Student Union.

This is a double standard, but it’s one the University won’t rectify anytime soon. The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living funds the campus anti-smoking program, and until the University gets money from a campaign for healthy eating, the double standard will continue.

The website for Smoking Words — the University program started in 2001 to track and curb student tobacco use — raises legitimate concerns about the ethics of using tobacco products. It’s an industry riddled with the exploitation of child labor, but the solution lies within the consumer, not the University.

While ignorance is no excuse for funding morally bankrupt companies, the University should not ban an FDA-regulated product that many students use to get through their day. One student’s cup of coffee is another student’s smoke break.

Since it’s the consumer’s responsibility to research the product he uses, it follows that the consumer should use that product in a responsible way. Consider the plight of an impulsive student skateboarder. Said student could use his skateboard to do a totally sick grind on the railings outside Lockett, or he could understand there’s an unspoken agreement between himself and the

University that forbids him from doing so.

Just as the skateboarder should know not to perform tricks while riding to class, smokers should know not to smoke near non-smokers. The current situation only leads to students undermining the authority of the University.

This is where a partial University smoking ban comes into play. If the University bans smoking in all but a few, avoidable areas instead of the entire campus, then everyone wins. Students and staff won’t resort to breaking University regulations, and non-smokers can escape the miasma of harmful nicotine clouds.

Of course, it is of utmost importance for the University to keep the student body safe, but there is only so much baby-proofing a University should do to save students from themselves.

Michael Frank is a 22-year-old political science and English senior from New Orleans, Louisiana.

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