Banning smoking is illogical

The university shouldn’t implement policies that make decisions for students and faculty.

Columnist Christina Mitchell wrote that a smoking ban would be unreasonable to enforce on Temple’s urban campus. | MONICA LOUGH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Almost every time I walk outside my dorm or down the street, I am bound to pass someone taking a smoke break, whether it be a student, professor or a North Philadelphia resident.

We all know the risks of smoking. The statistics have proven the use of tobacco is correlated to lung cancer, and it is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States.

But, according to a 2015 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, about 15 percent U.S. adults ages 18 years or older smoked cigarettes. This means that year, an estimated 36.5 million college-aged adults in the U.S. were smoking cigarettes.

Temple is possibly joining other schools in placing restrictions on smoking cigarettes. Recently, a university-wide survey was sent out via email to see what the Temple community thinks about an on-campus smoking ban and ask for policy suggestions.

While I’m aware of the health risks of smoking, I think it’s foolish for the university to try to impose this type of rule — our campus is not a closed-off territory, but a public part of the city that is home to a larger population than just students and faculty. It is up to the university to educate students and make us aware of dangerous things, but it is not up to the university to make moral or health decisions for us.

Several schools across the nation have taken measures against on-campus smoking by placing restrictions on where students can smoke, and some have gone as far as to ban smoking tobacco completely — the Community College of Philadelphia instituted a ban in January.

Ana Beam, a freshman philosophy major who smokes cigarettes, thinks prohibiting smoking wouldn’t help students end the habit.

“I’d understand if Temple banned smoking because of students’ health, but I think students may try to go off campus in dangerous areas to smoke,” she said.

In the email sent out to students and faculty, the Temple Smoke-Free Task Force Committee wrote that the university is considering a smoking ban to create a “healthier environment.” It also listed disturbing statistics about the effects of cigarette smoke.

“We are trying to improve the health of students,” said Jennifer Ibrahim, associate dean of Academic Affairs in the College of Public Health. “And the purpose of the survey is to get the input of students and faculty and to remember that we all coexist on the campus and must respect each other.”

I’m sure many members of the university are in favor of banning tobacco use. But since Main Campus is public, it would be a challenging, if not impossible, move to make legally.

Many North Philadelphia residents walk the streets of campus daily, and it is out of Temple’s jurisdiction to force them to comply with non-smoking rules.

“Temple’s location in the middle of the city makes this policy illogical,” Beam said. “In my personal opinion, it’s reasonable to enact a no-smoking policy, but only within a certain amount of distance from Temple-affiliated buildings, so basically the way it is now.”

Smoking is currently prohibited 25 feet from building entrances.

When I took the survey, I selected “allow the use of all products on campus only at specific outside locations.” I think this option is a good compromise for both sides of the issue, and it is the most realistic option for a school situated in the middle of an urban neighborhood. It’s understandable to place restrictions on areas that are mostly populated by students, like in front of residence halls and classrooms. But anything more than that would be virtually impossible.

“We do not have a definite campus, and we share the location with residents of the city, unlike schools like the University of Pennsylvania,” Ibrahim said.

While implementing a ban on smoking cigarettes may seem like an ideal solution to make campus healthier, it is unfeasible to enforce.

The university’s policy should remain as it stands: smokers should be mindful of where they are smoking on Main Campus and respectful of the minor limitations.

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