Opinion: Smoking ban is discrimination

DESMOND MILLER / GUARDSMAN

By Graham Henderson
Staff Writer

Prohibiting smoking on a public school campus such as City College is discrimination. City College still allows smoking almost anywhere an campus, the only exceptions are inside of buildings and within 20 feet of a building entrance or open windows. These regulations are not City College rules, they are California state laws.

About one in five college students are regular cigarette smokers, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

While this is nearly10 percent less than what was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997, 20 percent is still a large minority. A minority that is too big to discriminate against.

Many community colleges do not agree with City College’s stance on smoking. In California, four community colleges have campuses that are 100 percent tobacco-free, according to statistics compiled by the California Youth Advocacy Network.

Another six community colleges allow tobacco but only in smokeless forms and another 49 schools limit smoking to either parking lots or designated smoking areas around campus.

There is no doubt any more that smoking is extremely harmful to your health, nor is it healthy to inhale second-hand smoke. In fact, prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke can be more harmful over time because unlike a cigarette, the smoke is not filtered before being inhaled.

Everyone is already aware of the potential effects. Smoking is a choice, and if people want to harm themselves, then they are entitled to that right.

As for second-hand smoke, it is not difficult for students who don’t smoke to simply avoid it. Smokers tend to congregate together, making it easy to avoid the area.

If a student absolutely needs to walk through a group of smokers, while exiting a building for example, one sniff of smoke is not going to get them hooked on nicotine. It may not be healthy, but neither is walking around the polluted cities of

Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, or breathing in smoke at a bonfire.

However, this is not to say that smokers should be allowed to smoke by entrances or inside buildings. It’s not fair for students with health problems who may be sensitive to smoke.

That’s why it’s illegal and smokers need to honor the law.

There is also the problem of how to prevent tobacco use on a campus that is designated as tobacco-free. Cigarettes are extremely addictive and students who smoke will not quit just because they are not allowed to smoke on campus.

At San Diego’s Mesa College, students have continued to smoke despite the campus being designated as smoke-free, according to a Feb. 12 article in The Mesa Press. Because the campus is smoke-free, there is nowhere to discard cigarette butts, so they end up on the ground, making more work for the custodial staff, the article said.

Smoking is not a crime. Students who smoke on campus are law abiding citizens. City College is a public school, and not allowing students to partake in a legal activity on campus is simply not right. It is not the job of a school to tell people not to smoke.

Tobacco is only legal for adults who are old enough to make decisions that will effect the rest of their lives. Smoking is, quite frankly, stupid. But being stupid is not a crime.

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