Re: Enforcment of Temple’s smoking policy

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Dear Editor,

In the article “Smoking policy enforcement insufficient,” Justin Lai puts forward his arguments for proper enforcement of Temple’s smoking policy. It includes both ways in which the university should go about better enforcing the policy and reasons why it should do so. Unfortunately, both of his arguments are lacking.

Let us begin with Temple moving ashtrays outside the 25-feet zone around buildings where smoking is prohibited. This would not stop students from smoking within this area. When a smoker is walking to class, he smokes up until the door of the building so as to be able to finish his smoke – and not waste his money – and still get to class on time. Moving ashtrays away from the doors would not make students stop 25 feet from their destination so as to be in compliance with the policy, it will simply make them stop using the ashtrays.

Hanging signage is equally pointless. Most smokers who are aware of the policy ignore it because they question if there is really any difference between finishing their smoke 5 feet or 25 feet from a building. Outside is outside. A perfect example of the ineffectiveness of both of these initiatives can be seen at Temple’s Center City campus, where signs are prominently displayed and ashtrays “appropriately” placed. Every Thursday when I go down there for my weekly class, however, I inevitably join a group of at least 10 other students ignoring the signs and now not using ashtrays because they are placed inconveniently far from and opposite from our final destination. Another failure of the 25-feet policy is the fact that sidewalks are within 25 feet of building entrances. Should a smoker, student or not, leave the sidewalk to circle around some imaginary 25-feet radius? I think not.

Lai’s arguments for why stricter enforcement is necessary are even less rooted in common sense. He states that enforcing the policy would “reduce air pollutants and the adverse health effects of those passively exposed to tobacco smoke.” Ignoring the extremely minor nature of these “health effects,” it must be pointed out that moving smokers does not remove smoke. People would still be “passively exposed” to tobacco smoke as they walk around campus and pass the newly positioned ashtrays, and smoke would still be “polluting” the air – though this idea itself is highly debatable.

This leads to the end of Lai’s argument, where he advocates for Temple moving toward an entirely smoke-free campus. He lists other area post-secondary institutions that have already done so, citing the American Nonsmoker’s Rights Foundation as his source. The obvious question here is: “What about smokers’ rights?” This issue is another example of how special interest groups misrepresent themselves as fighters for freedom and do so at the expense of it. In the very same issue of this paper, an article entitled “Public musicians hit sour notes” by Jerry Iannelli urges the amateur musicians on campus not to play in public until their skills are better honed. He says that most students find the beginner guitar player’s set list and playing style both uncreative and rather annoying. I happen to agree with Iannelli, but we are not advocating for Temple to outright ban these people from playing in public because “most students” find it irritating.

The bottom line is that we live in a free country. If you wish to live enjoying the fruits of your freedom, then you must recognize and respect that everyone else can do so as well; and this includes tolerating that some people exercise their freedom by choosing to smoke. The only solution to the lack of enforcement of the smoking policy is not to make Temple a smoke-free campus, but rather to rescind the nonsensical policy and make Temple simply a free campus.

Alexandria Lawless
Class of 2014

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