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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Columns

A smoke-free campus?


Where is your favorite place to eat on campus?

  • Pink's Pizza (18%, 36 Votes)
  • Food trucks (17%, 34 Votes)
  • McAlister's Deli (17%, 33 Votes)
  • University Center (14%, 27 Votes)
  • University Center Satellite (13%, 26 Votes)
  • Fresh Food Co. (7%, 14 Votes)
  • Jimmy John's (6%, 12 Votes)
  • Cougar Woods (5%, 9 Votes)
  • Cafe 101 (5%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 199

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Bryan Washington

Our student government’s smoking ban would be a pleasant idea if it weren’t absolutely ridiculous. It’s simply devoid of sense.

Even if we were to bypass the fact that only a handful of students are even aware that it exists, the timing of its creation more than accounts for the surplus unprofessionalism surrounding it.

The idea of a non-smoking campus is a wonderful thing to imagine, but turning the image into a reality is neither logical nor possible.

First of all, this policy, which affects the entire campus, was passed during the summer. That’s a deal breaker.

If we were to observe the average student’s participation in student government’s affairs, it’d be hard enough to find a significant amount of activity during the fall and spring semesters.

This is when said students are generally on University grounds, walking its sidewalks and breathing its air. And it’s at this time that they’d be most concerned with its well-being.

So it isn’t right for a policy as big as the smoking ban to be legitimized during summer break, when the overwhelming majority of its target audience is off site.

Worse yet is the lack of consistency pertaining to enforcement. One of the fundamental principles of any social contract is the presence of a standard, or at least a means of finding out when you’ve done something wrong. Our mystery policy has neither.

While it does a fine job of stating the obvious — that a cigarette’s not as beneficial to your body as a glass of orange juice might be — it doesn’t explicitly define the image it seeks to convey. Does a smoke free campus entail absolutely no smoking at all or only outside of its educational hubs? Are parking lots fair game?

Is there a fine associated with breaking the ban? If there is, how much would it cost? This is only a partial sampling of the grievances that arise in the stead of a tangible concept.

We’re the University of Houston — as opposed to some crosstown liberal arts den — where a similar agenda could be enacted with comparatively less opposition, we don’t have the luxury of a single demographic.

As one of the nation’s most diverse universities, we must cater to all types, which means smokers and non-smokers alike.

And the biggest problem with the ban might be just that: a lack of respect for the scope of the University, its population, and what they both supposedly stand for.

Bryan Washington is a sociology and english major and may be reached at [email protected]

Alex Caballero

The air quality in and around the University of Houston is about to get better. The University’s new tobacco-free policy is already underway. University stores have already stopped selling tobacco products. Smokers have had to find their fix elsewhere, and their whining has already started. But incoming freshmen won’t have to deal with walking through thick clouds of secondhand smoke outside of their classroom buildings or the annoying blockage of pedestrian traffic as the smokers “congregate” together.

No, freshmen will never experience those annoyances because, thanks in part to a Texas law requiring a tobacco ban to receive funding from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, UH will become a cleaner and healthier facility for non-smokers. The smokers on campus will have designated smoking areas, so it is not a complete ban, and having designated areas will make smoking more of a sociable vice for those who do.

However, the point of this tobacco-free policy is simply a matter of safety. There are people who don’t want to inhale the smoke but are forced to merely because of their proximity to those who do. It has been proven countless times that inhaling secondhand smoke is just as bad as, if not worse than, puffing away at a cigarette. Secondhand smoke can cause cancer, and discarded cigarette butts can lead to fires and litter. Why should healthy non-smokers put their own lives at risk for those who enjoy it? Smoking is a self-induced health hazard, and UH shouldn’t promote it.

Non-smokers who would otherwise not come in contact with smokers have to work their way through clouds of gray smoke to get to their classes. Having designated areas will decongest foot traffic and lungs alike. Also, every day the campus is littered with cigarette butts by those who are too cool to find a nearby trash can and just flick their butts to the ground. Those cigarette butts aren’t biodegradable and pollute the environment, not to mention they make the campus look dirty and unkempt.

This ban will not only assure the University gets a cut of the funding from CPRIT, but it will save the campus money in the long run. Smoke from cigarettes has been proven to damage buildings. In the long run, tuition prices could go down, and we could all benefit from that. Smoking is a bad habit that causes cancer, bad breath and bad skin, and with this ban UH is doing right by smokers and non-smokers alike.

Alex Caballero is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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