Skewed smoking survey touted

by Justin Horwath

A Minnesota Daily report on a campus discussion about an outdoor smoking ban reads: "Most people at the University of Minnesota would support a campuswide smoking ban, according to the results of a University opinion survey."

Indeed, most do. Perhaps that’s because the survey asked respondents this question: "How likely are you to support a policy prohibiting smoking on all U of M property (both indoors and outdoors)?" More than 53 percent of students said they were likely or very likely to support such a policy and more than 58 percent of faculty agreed. 

Just what exactly those respondents would support, however, is unclear considering the caveat surveyors put in parenthesis. Administrators would be undermining the intelligence of the University community and their own integrity if they use that statistic to drum up support for an outdoor smoking ban. Accordingly, the survey and any discussion about it in the context of supporting an outdoor smoking ban should be viewed as an insult to the very concept of critical thinking the University purports to inculcate in its students. Nothing less than a new, fair survey about an outdoor smoking ban and an apology from Dr. Katherine Himes, senior vice president of academic affairs, should be acceptable if a “conversation” about an outdoor smoking ban is going to continue.