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SUNY-wide smoking ban will improve environment

Smoking has always been a controversial issue when it comes to restricting it from the people that choose to take part in it. So when the SUNY Board of Trustees announced that all State University of New York campuses will be tobacco-free by 2014, the issue is raised on whether it is actually a good decision or not. The immediate reaction would be yes, but smokers would be hard-pressed to agree.

According to a 2011 CORE survey, 29.8 percent of students use tobacco on campus. It may seem like a small percentage, but it comes out to about 3,000 people on campus. For the majority of those people, they tend to smoke more than one cigarette a day as well. There is no one prime location on campus where smokers are supposed to smoke, so the majority of campus can be affected by second hand smoke as well.

This was the main reason to create the smoking ban in the first place, to try to make the campus a healthier place. Student Health Services director Elizabeth Burns believes that the ban will create a clean air environment and will eliminate any contact with second hand smoke, as well as secondary litter. Not only are they trying to make it a healthier environment for everyone, they hope that it will cause smokers to smoke less or at best quit smoking.

But others see the middle ground of the issue, why smokers have the right to be angry with this as well. Oswego State professor David Vampola is divided on the topic and has no position for either side. He sees the side of how the “public health” is in jeopardy and how smokers can harm the non-smokers, but also sees it as an activity performed by an individual, where their right should be protected as long as they do not directly harm others.

“The conflict between the contrasting ideals of collective and individual rights can articulate some of the cultural and social discord that we are experiencing in America today,” Vampola said. “The controversy over the attempt to enact smoking bans is yet another manifestation of the dynamic of these two domains in the intellectual and political life of our society.”

So smokers have the argument that they have the right to smoke if they want to and that even if there were a ban, they wouldn’t have to stop smoking. Many would admit that it is hard enough to quit smoking in general. It was not announced what the penalty for smoking during the ban would be, but students or even faculty could suffer the penalty of having to quit and the struggle that comes with it.

The Mary Walker Health Center does have seminars and programs that one can go through to help with the struggle, and the ban will also take place in a step process to ease everyone into the ban.

The key point to the issue is that smoking is harmful to the people that take part in it and even to the people that do not. Losing family members due to smoking is not something anyone should go through and, the sooner anyone can quit, the sooner they can help the process of making sure that doesn’t happen. It may not stop people from smoking, but for the most part the ban will give a healthier environment for the Oswego State campus.

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