For being a smoke-free campus, this university sure has a lot of cigarette butts lying around.
After the Board of Regents, the 17-member board that sets university system policy, voted unanimously in July 2012 to ban smoking on all campuses in the University System of Maryland, I thought I would be free of tobacco’s horrible odor and resulting lung irritation. Finally, I would be able to walk into McKeldin Library without wheezing. I would be free to leave my dorm windows open without the risk of secondhand smoke wafting in, and my eyes wouldn’t itch constantly as I walked to class.
Clearly, this was only wishful thinking.
If you attempt to walk anywhere on the campus, you will be promptly greeted by an ignorant rule breaker puffing rings of carcinogens into your face. Because who cares about laws when you have a disgusting nicotine addiction to feed? Your need to pour tar and formaldehyde into your lungs obviously outweighs others’ needs to breathe freely.
And where are university officials during all of this? Why, they are busy putting up signs for designated smoking areas on a smoke-free campus. What’s worse is the complete lack of reprimand for people who choose to smoke elsewhere on campus. I mean, I love a side of respiratory problems with my breakfast as much as the next gal, but someone needs to draw the line.
This university is dealing with the issue of smoking on the campus through a series of addict-coddling failures. First, if the campus is truly “smoke-free,” there should be no designated smoking areas. Some argue that eliminating smoking areas will increase the risk of crime for students who must travel far off-campus at odd hours to smoke. If anything, this risk should simply serve as a deterrent to smoking in general. If not, why bother taking this new risk into account at all? If smokers are willing to risk mouth, throat and lung cancer through their actions, I am sure they can stomach the risk of being mugged on Route 1.
Second, if one concedes that designated smoking areas are positive, why isn’t anyone punishing the students who simply ignore the rule? Is it really that hard to employ a few more police auxiliary members and have them issue a few citations at random? There was obviously no reason to draft this legislation if no one plans to uphold it. And smokers, stop leaving cigarette butts all over the place. Facilities Management didn’t spend the summer re-mulching and edging sidewalks for them to be covered in trash by lazy people who can’t walk three steps to the ashtray (maybe if you stopped smoking, this activity wouldn’t seem so strenuous).
Finally, why are we being so nice about the whole ordeal? We should be working toward deterrence, not accommodation of smokers. “Designated Smoking Areas” should be labeled more negatively. Consider using “Lung Cancer Contraction Zones,” “Nicotine Addict Areas” or “Spaces for Jerks Harming Themselves and Others” instead.
With the Code of Student Conduct’s expansion, the university now has the ability to report all sorts of off-campus misconduct, yet for whatever reason, they are unable to enforce a simple cigarette ban on campus. These folks don’t quite qualify as stealthy secret agents; they literally walk around surrounded by a cloud of smoke. If that isn’t a good enough way to identify criminals, I’m not sure what is.
Campus officials need to start addressing this policy with more consistency and resolve. A system-wide smoking ban shouldn’t just be a piece of paper — there should be tangible changes on the campus, and I am still waiting to see them.
Tiffany Burba is a senior government and politics major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.