Monday’s smoking ban forum

by Johnathan Brown

The Minnesota Daily has been host to myriad opinions regarding the University’s proposed outdoor smoking ban. Letters both pro and con have poured in throughout the semester; clearly this issue has struck a cord among the University community. There will be another chance for students with to opine with administrators about the ban. The board urges anyone concerned to show up on Monday evening, December 8th from 4:00p.m.-5:00p.m at Coffman theater, where administration is holding a forum regarding the outdoor ban. According to a presumably campus-wide email sent out by Vice Provost Jerry Rinehart:


"During these consultations, results of a survey of campus attitudes related to smoking on campus will be shared and attendees will be asked to identify issues to consider when determining whether University should enact a smoke-free/tobacco-free policy, and to provide reasons for support for or opposition to enacting a smoke-free/tobacco-free policy."


The public-health-crazed administrative juggernaut is already making clear their next goal: a tobacco-free campus. That means chewing tobacco, outdoors. Chewing tobacco pollutes our air zero percent, unlike car exhaust, industrial pollution and to a negligible degree, cigarettes. At times like this, when administration floats the idea of an outdoor chewing tobacco ban with a straight face, it becomes crystal clear how far removed they truly are from those they serve. It can often seem as if administration has already made up their mind regarding the ban, and they’ve little left to do but pander with PR and posture to remain under the pretense of legitimacy.


 The Boynton Health survey administrators are referring to (and will share Monday night) made a every attempt to downplay the fact that the ban being considered is solely for outdoor smoking. The entire first half of the survey appeared to be designed to implant the charged notion of "secondhand smoke" into respondents’ minds; whereafter the survey, surely concerned with the accurate measurement of attitudes, asked if respondants would support a smoking ban "(both indoor and outdoor)?" Yes, ‘outdoor’ was a parenthetical footnote. Yes, the issue at hand was conflated with an indoor smoking ban which has been in place for over thirty years. If the question at hand dealt with sexual health or cancer, Boynton could not get away with this clear bias.


Sadly, those against the smoking ban inevitably appear to be in favor of smoking itself. This has become a boondoggle to all those who are concerned solely with personal liberty and stopping a grossly unjustifiable administrative power-grab. 


While the Editorial Board has made clear where we stand on the issue of an outdoor smoking ban–that it is patently ludicrous–we hope all those with opinions on the matter show up at Monday’s "consultation."


Students must make their voices heard regarding an outdoor smoking ban, lest the sham of a survey the administration offers in their stead speak for them.