Thursday, December 1, 2011

DEBATING CAMPUS PROTOCOL: Two debate team members discuss changes to PLU’s smoking regulations on campus

Editor opposes new policy... 

By Alexis Briggs, Business and ADs Manager

There’s no denying it. Smoking is bad for you.

But so is drinking coffee, tanning, drinking alcohol and sleeping only a few hours a night.

And yet, Pacific Lutheran University has coffee carts all over campus, a tanning salon in Garfield commons, a movement to allow drinking in South Hall and, as much as we try to fight it, senior capstone projects – the antithesis of sleep.

But PLU is banning smoking.

Beyond the on-face discrimination this policy systemically perpetuates, the action is illogical for a few different reasons.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 14.9 percent of Washingtonians used tobacco products.

Applied to the student population of PLU, roughly 550 students use tobacco.

This means throughout the day, and more problematically at night, a relatively large number of people will be walking to the edge of PLU premises in Parkland to partake.

What will this say to the Parkland community when PLU, I assume, will no longer be offering disposal sites?

I doubt the Parkland community will appreciate the cigarette-puffing foot traffic that will result with this ban.

This policy is a violation of personal liberties by inhibiting the freedom to participate in a legal substance.

The counter to this statement is that students submit to the restriction of our freedoms in order to attend a private university just as we do with alcohol consumption and the disallowance of pets in the dorms.

But such forward action on tobacco products begs the question, how far will these restrictions go?

In 10 years, will an individual be written up for consuming artificial sweeteners on campus?

Both substances are less than beneficial for individual health and the environment, so could the criteria of banning a substance be extended?

What is most disturbing about this policy is the ideology and implementation, both of which have severely marginalized the student voice and created systemic discrimination.

First of all, there was no student referendum, vote, mass email or any significant attempt to gain the student perspective on the policy.

I find it ironic that an academic institution did little to solicit critical thinking or allow itself to be challenged in the free-market of ideas.

Second, individuals who use tobacco products are already incredibly stigmatized.

This policy moves discrimination against tobacco users into a formalized system of regulation.

To me, it seems that individuals who use tobacco products matter less in the eyes of PLU administration.

Finally, let’s analyze the massive assumption that people will stop smoking due to the inconvenience, which I feel is the rickety foundation supporting the PLU smoking ban argument.

Have you ever heard the saying ‘quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroin?’ published an article in 2010 in which Dr. Raymond Seidler explained, “nicotine addiction is as powerful, or even more powerful, than heroin addiction. The [brain’s] receptors for smoking are as strongly attached to nicotine as the heroine receptor is to opiates.”

In other words, this policy does nothing to cause tobacco cessation.