For the last three years I’ve considered myself an average cigarette smoker. From Parliament Lights to Natural American Spirits, I’ve had my fair share of tobacco intake. But I’ve never felt my right to light up more infringed than it is now. Our newest smoking policy effectively confines smokers to 12 areas on campus, as designated by a number of placards.
My first reaction to this ostracization was complete outrage, but after considering it further I became very concerned for the wellbeing of this student population. San Diego State’s concern for the health of the student body is completely understandable, but nonsmoking campaigns are something most of us outgrew in our early years. No, my concern lies within our liberties as individuals and the ease in which they’re taken away.
When I attended Mesa Community College, a very similar nonsmoking policy arose after my second year of school. It didn’t seem like an issue at first because, similar to this policy, it included designated smoking areas for students. Like Mesa, Grossmont College and other schools, it’s only a matter of time before that same stance is taken here. Recent laws have furthered a deeper control of smokers, and it’s getting to a point where the liberties of smokers are absolutely being taken away.
At SDSU, I can safely say there aren’t too many smokers on campus. In previous years, it was a rare occasion for me to have someone approach me seeking a cigarette. With smokers being such a minority at SDSU, I don’t understand where the problem arose. This is a huge campus with a lot of open space. The smoke from my cigarette isn’t likely to travel into doorways or into the noses of those who do not partake. So why is this such a concern of our administration that put the policy into place?
Honestly, the hypocrisy in policies is amazing: There’s no end of fast food restaurants on campus dishing up processed foods, which can be a huge concern to the health of many of us. So too did we host a bar on this campus until last year — and have several venues dispensing alcohol nearby. Obesity and alcoholism are serious issues that affect thousands of people every year. When does one health risk outweigh another? I understand these diseases are self-inflicted, but the bottom line is we as individuals pick our poisons.
Walking to a designated area as almost a statement of outcasting is not where I am concerned. I’ve grown used to being treated like a societal pariah for my decision to smoke. I’ve endured the hyperbolic coughs nonsmokers aim when I pull out a cigarette. And I’ve already toughened up against those snottily pointing out, “You know cigarettes kill you, right?”
Smokers such as myself are outcast every single day because of who we are and what we involve ourselves with. The problem is there comes a point when there is too much control of the population.
My smoke break is a retreat. It is a time when I can step back from the stresses consuming me on a day-to-day basis. It is a time to think, relax and get the quick buzz I need to get my head back in the game. It is what helps me focus when my brain is in a scramble and I can’t even get one thought out as to what do to next.
My decision to smoke is my own prerogative. I pay tuition like the rest of the student body, and with that I’d like to have my freedoms that accompany it. To take away our liberties is to take away our identities. I identify myself as a smoker and if this campus does not choose to recognize my decision, it is choosing not to recognize me as its student.