Many get burned by new UA tobacco ban
The new smoking and tobacco policy released by the UA, while good in theory, is misguided in its planned execution and has resulted in overkill of what could have been a beneficial policy.
According to the new policy, effective on August 15, all nicotine-containing products, with the exception of cessation products such as patches, gum and inhalers, will be prohibited from all UA property and vehicles.
The stated purpose of the policy is to establish “commitment to protect the health of university faculty, staff, students and visitors on its property and in its vehicles.”
One problem with the policy is that the prohibition includes smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarette devices.
Banning smokeless tobacco, commonly known as dip or chew, for the purpose of creating a healthier environment for everyone doesn’t makes sense because smokeless tobacco only affects the user.
While it may be gross for some people in the vicinity of someone spitting tobacco into a clear bottle, it is in no way going to affect their health.
There are lots of different people roaming around campus with gross and distasteful habits and manners. This doesn’t create the need of a policy banning them from campus. Rather, people can simply remind them of how obnoxious they’re being or ignore them altogether.
As for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, the policy is needlessly banning people that have switched from a more unhealthy and bothersome habit to one that is not as bad and only mildly annoying when in very close proximity.
It’s not unreasonable to ban the use of e-cigs in classrooms, libraries or anywhere else where people are required to be in close proximity to others, and where the vapor and odors can cause distractions from the learning process.
It is unreasonable to ban them outdoors where most people wouldn’t even be able to notice someone using these products unless they were near the user. The light aromas are not even as strong as the body sprays and colognes many students douse themselves in and there isn’t a policy banning those fragrances.
If the policy is really based upon concern for the health and welfare of the general public, then why is it necessary to add restrictions that bring no added benefits to others?
The second problem with the policy is where the guidelines prohibit the use of these products, which is every UA property and every UA vehicle.
The policy is not doing its intended purpose of protecting the health of the public by banning students from puffing on a e-cig or dipping tobacco in their dorm rooms. It also isn’t protecting the public by banning an employee from smoking inside a vehicle while at work.
Preventing inconsiderate tobacco users from forcing their second-hand smoke on people is a good idea and not the issue. The issue is that the UA has decided to do it in a clumsy and unreasonable fashion.
A more reasonable policy would have allowed tobacco users to only smoke in designated areas that are away from areas of heavy foot traffic, and banned e-cigs and smokeless tobacco from indoor public areas only.
The designers of the policy failed to take into account that college students are adults who have their own choices, privileges and responsibilities, and should be treated as such. Instead, they act like nannies that simply deny all sweets to the children in their charge.
When a policy doesn’t properly address issues with reasonable solutions, but rather blankets them together with unreasonable bans, it’s not really effective.
With a little more consideration to those that use tobacco products, as well as those that choose not to, the policy could have been an effective tool to protect public health while preserving the freedom of everyone on campus.
Jorge Encinas is a junior studying journalism. Follow him @DailyWildcat