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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | Last updated: 2:30pm

Tobacco ban oversteps authority



Returning to school always means a curbing of freedoms. There’s less time for sleeping, but somehow more time for crying.

At some point, we conceded defeat to these fundamental truths of college. Qué será, será.

But this semester, we found a fresh set of restrictions awaiting us which, for some, read more like a curb stomp: our campus’ new smoking and tobacco policy. All forms of tobacco are now banned on university property, and e-cigarettes are restricted from use in buildings, athletic facilities, parking garages and within 25 feet of entrances and exits.

A cigarette smoking ban has been in the works for years, and, while its final draft was more strict than expected and warranted, its eventual passage came as no surprise. The inclusion of other forms of tobacco and nicotine, on the other hand, is bizarre.

Allowing e-cigarettes in some areas is a step in the right direction from the original proposal, which would have banned them entirely, but having e-cigarettes restricted in a trillion areas still irks us.

A ban on cigarette smoking is essentially a ban on secondhand smoke and isn’t difficult to understand from that perspective.

There still has been no proven health risk to those in the vicinity of smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette users, and suspicions don’t make good public policy. They don’t cause the campus to be littered with paper butts or create fire hazards. In fact, one of the reasons to use an e-cigarette is to avoid creating secondhand smoke and to prevent harm to others.

There is no public health justification for a ban on e-cigarettes, only a private moral one. And that’s not good enough.

Students at the UA engage in a myriad of behaviors that are unhealthy, unwise and undesirable from the administration’s point of view.

Why do they keep doing them? Because they enjoy it, because they’re addicted but most importantly, because they’re adults who can choose to do so. It’s any human’s right to be able to put any toxins into their body if they so desire, no matter what university they attend.

With this newest policy, it seems that the university has decided that some students’ vices are more welcome than others. We’re left wondering where and how that line is drawn, whether it’s the university’s line to draw, and even if the sand belongs to it in the first place.

The university has a right to protect its public spaces and its unwilling secondhand smokers. It has no such obligation to protect students from themselves. This attempt to do so is nothing short of paternalistic and inappropriate moral policing, and it should not be the official policy of an inclusive university.

E-cigarettes and many smokeless tobacco products are new technologies. It’s natural for there to be an adjustment period while new policies are created to deal with their use. But repurposing old rules for new products, especially when those old rules already delve too far into students’ personal lives, will only create an atmosphere of confusion and control.

Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by its members. They are Joey Fisher, Ethan McSweeney, Jacquelyn Oesterblad and Katelyn Kennon.


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