Smoking ban letters

I would just like to pose one question to those that are so in favor of banning smoking on campus: Have you ever read an epidemiological study that has conclusively linked secondhand smoke in the environment outside of buildings to pulmonary and/or cardiovascular disease? The answer is no. The only cases where people have been diagnosed as having diseases directly caused by their exposure to secondhand smoke were those people who had direct contact with smokers in a closed environment and on a daily basis (bartenders, waitresses, family members of smokers, etc.). The truth is, by attending the University of Minnesota in a metropolitan, highly industrialized city, one which also boasts one of the highest commuter rates in the country, simply being outside and breathing the air is much, much worse for your health than walking past a person smoking a cigarette ever could be. That being said, to further ostracize smokers in our community, who in all reality are NOT hurting anyone by smoking outside, is simply stripping them of their civil liberties, preventing them from living a normal life as they see fit in accordance with the law. How is that different from Prop 8? Samuel Starkman University Employee Chelsey Johnson’s guest column of Thursday, Nov. 6 was among the weakest I’ve read in a long time. While very few people will argue that secondhand smoke is good for anyone, outdoor, campus-wide smoking bans amount to nothing less âÄî and nothing more âÄî than a witch hunt. Outdoor smoking ban proponents would make smokers’ lives miserable every minute of every day just to avoid spending three seconds walking past a smoker. Folks will willingly leap into pools containing the poison chlorine and scrub their teeth with the poison fluoride (both of which are in city water, by the way), but we are to believe that a 30 second exposure to dissipated cigarette smoke is destroying the health of every last innocent nonsmoker on campus because âÄúany levelâÄù of poison is unacceptable. The claim is offered in earnest, like these people are prisoners pleading for their very lives. Anti-smoking proponents are quick to repeat the mantra that there is no âÄúsafeâÄù level of smoke exposure, but what does it mean to be âÄúunsafe?âÄù I should think that it is all but impossible to muster a scientific study that could show that passing exposure to outdoor smoke has had any long-term effect on anyone’s health. In fact, my understanding is that the claim refers to the amount of smoke that can be inhaled with no evidence of it in the blood. Of course, the presence of something in the blood is not the same as a deleterious health effect. We ingest poison everyday as medication, inhale poison from car exhaust, and take all manner of chemicals into our bodies every day, if not willfully, in most cases, with no concern whatsoever. We’re not concerned because we know that âÄúthe poison is in the portion.âÄù Cigarette smoke is no different and can be no different. In fact, in still air, the level of cigarette smoke in the air becomes effectively âÄúundetectableâÄù 25 feet from a smoker (the University’s âÄú25 feet from a doorâÄù rule is not arbitrary). Every study I found expounding upon the dangers of outdoor secondhand smoke exposure could only muster scary information about the cloud of smoke within âÄúa few feetâÄù of a smoker. Indeed, if you are standing nose-to-nose with an outdoor smoker, you’re going to inhale a very high concentration of smoke. And if you insist on doing this for hours a day, every day, indeed, it will probably make you sick. The notion that we should enact an outdoor smoking ban just because others have is also absurd. Appeals to consensus or common practice are hallmarks of an ill-conceived or inherently weak argument. There are approximately 2,618 accredited four-year colleges and universities in the USA. A mere 160 have enacted outdoor smoking bans. The converse of her argument is this: âÄúLet us remain with the nearly 2,500 universities that have not enacted an outdoor smoking ban!âÄù What other people are doing doesn’t make something right or wrong and should have no effect whatsoever on the University. I don’t know if Thursday’s guest columnist genuinely believes that she is going to die from walking past a smoker on Northrop Mall, or if she is a run-of-the-mill lynch-mobber whose real motivation is a belief that a government should legislate people into good health and micromanage every aspect of private citizens’ lives. If it’s the former, I hope she’ll be relieved to hear that, yes, she will survive the smoker on Northrop. If it’s the latter, I think she should be ashamed of herself. Becky Palapala CLA Senior