Response to “Anti-tobacco ban infringes on individual liberties”

An assistant professor at the College of Public Health offers her support for Temple University’s tobacco-free campus policy.

On Nov. 12, an article was published in The Temple News for which I had been interviewed by two people, one of whom authored the article. I do not remember being told that the journalist was going to write about individual liberties, though I was asked if I thought the tobacco-free campus policy was an infringement on them. I do not.

After reading the published article, I felt compelled to follow up with a response that would better capture my views.

I do support 100 percent tobacco free college campuses and am proud that Temple has joined the over 2,000 campuses in the United States that are 100 percent tobacco free.

Tobacco-free campuses do not violate students’ individual liberties because first, a property owner has the legal right to restrict activities on said property; second, no one is forbidding a person from smoking – only from smoking while on this property; and third, the age to purchase tobacco may be higher than the age of most students.Recently, the Pennsylvania House and Senate passed legislation to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21, so banning tobacco use on a campus where 50 percent of students are under 21 years of age makes sense.

More importantly, tobacco bans make sense for individual and population health. Tobacco use, especially cigarettes, smokeless products and vapes, are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Most of these deaths are attributed to first and secondhand cigarette smoke, though deaths related to some types of vaping have occurred this year.

People start smoking because they see it — people continue to smoke because nicotine, found in all tobacco products, is an addictive psychoactive drug. The critical period for addiction (i.e., the time that makes addiction more likely to occur) is drug exposure before age 25. To have students who most likely did not see cigarette smoking in their high schools come to a campus that allows smoking would create a norm that could lead to addiction and a substantial reduction in quality life years.

But my concern isn’t only for those who would start to smoke, it’s also for current cigarette or e-cig users because the harder it is to smoke or vape, the easier it is to quit. Seeing other people smoking/vaping is a trigger or cue to use. Most adults I have met wish they could quit and support policies that prohibit smoking in public.

Indeed, Temple University enacting a tobacco free campus policy was a responsible, health-promoting action that can prevent smoking initiation and instigate smoking cessation. If you are interested in quitting smoking click here to learn about resources to help.

Deirdre Dingman is an assistant professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the College of Public Health.

1 Comment

  1. It is very likely that the only people and organizations that rightfully own property (in truth as opposed to reality) in what is now the United States are Native Americans and their tribes and tribal nations. This land was stolen from them, and if you purchased any, you most likely purchased it from a source who purchased from a source that goes back to a thief, including federal and state governments. You have a right to clean air over American land when you’re trespassing on it?

    Many Native American tribal peoples burn tobacco or smoke it in connection with tribal religious or ceremonial life. Quite a few smoked non-ceremonially thousands of years before European immigrants bullied their way. For at least 100 years of our history, in the name of Christianity they not only insulted tobacco, but coffee and chocolate, also American, but prevented Native Americans from teaching tribal religions to their own kids, whom they kidnapped and forced into Christian boarding schools – that is, when they were not killing, raping, enslaving, or robbing them. It was actually necessary to pass the 1978 Native American Indian Religious Freedom Act to stop the prejudice.

    The government’s desire to end smoking of tobacco has nothing to do with health care: it is doing this for large real estate corporations, the rich, and those who care nothing for the real Americans. If they cared about human health, they would ban alcohol, because it emits vapors filled with class A carcinogens at a rate thousands of times higher than tobacco smoke. Second-hand smoke research has been disproven in some cases, shown to be relevant only for those who live in the same rooms with smoking for about fifteen years or more, not the same apartment building, and children with parents who smoke actually later have lower lung cancer rates. This isn’t about tobacco corporation research: creditable scientists thought the anti-smoking etiological studies were ridiculous.

    The pollution created by many other products, notably fossil fuels, is far more dangerous and we still have people supporting the XL pipeline in places where it will destroy by carelessness the pitiful amount of land certain Native American groups still have. The anti-tobacco campaigns are disdainfully insulting to Native American tradition. The people caught up in this cult of bowing down to people in little medical coats and dressed in “public health” coats have not even noted the degree to which the cult is simply repeating US history at a 100 year old interval, but substituting tobacco for the alcohol it cannot prohibit. Wait till the Nazis led by Hitler, the first big anti-tobacco political leader, are repeated.

    My parents smoked during all their married life. My dad was married, too old to be drafted, and legally half-blind when he volunteered to fight the Nazis in WWII, and starved himself to meet the weight requirement and later came back a war hero. Do you really think these loving, decent people were guilty of “child abuse,” a term used for sexual abuse and beating kids with razor strops and locking them in closets? But that’s what the anti-tobacco forces want us to call those people now.

    It may be unfashionable to think that people should still be allowed to smoke in the privacy of their own apartments, and that Native Americans should be respected and their traditions tolerated in an open and liberal way, but that’s what this person thinks. You can’t take the 1960s and 1970s respect for civil rights out of some of us.

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