The student body should say ‘no’ to smoke-free


Dusty Hartl, Opinions Editor

Over the past year, talk has been circulating about whether or not to make the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater a tobacco-free campus. I was against it last year and I am pleased to say that I am against it this year too.

If you were around last year, you have probably heard about this or were a part of the demonstration that happened outside the University Center. I was part of the demonstration, supporting Whitewater Student Government and the student body.

The tobacco-free policy is a “voluntary” policy that would ask students to leave campus to use tobacco. Having gone to the forum, I can say that a reasonable doubt still persists that this policy is even capable of being enforced.

One of the options to help enforce this “voluntary” policy, is to shame students into leaving campus to smoke. Although this is just an idea, I do not think it is okay to have students walking around campus pressuring other students to leave campus or lecture them on their personal health decisions.

In the policy description, Chapter CSW 17 is referenced. Wisconsin State Legislature lists this chapter as “Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures.”

Why would a “voluntary policy” need discipline procedures? Isn’t that the opposite of
a “voluntary policy?”

If this policy happens, what’s stopping the campus from patrolling the dining halls shaming people who eat dessert because it can harm your health? Obesity is a nationwide epidemic and is just as worrisome, so why should the university stop at tobacco?

Last week I mentioned that this policy could hurt many students on campus, leaving a bigger threat for sexual assaults at these off-campus smoking hubs. With the days getting shorter, it is not too far fetched to assume that many students would feel threatened or scared to leave campus to smoke or use tobacco.

In 2015, a survey was issued to students on campus who were enrolled in health related courses. These survey results have been labeled by many as improperly conducted
and containing discrepancies.

Students reported in the 2015 survey that they feel somewhat safe 46.8 percent of the time and very safe 40.8 percent of the time at night, on campus.

This data reveals students are feeling less safe at night compared to during the day. The 2015 survey concludes that many students feel more uncomfortable walking around campus at night rather than during the day.

Wanting students to walk off campus is pressuring them into situations that they may feel
uncomfortable with.

It was said that this policy would cut the time from 30 years to 15 years to eliminate smoking altogether, but will it? Students already have the option to smoke or not to smoke because smoking is already voluntary.

Smoking, in itself, is a personal health decision that the university has no place sticking its nose into. If someone chooses to smoke because they have stress, depression, or anxiety then so be it.

The university will not ban emotional support animals, medications, or professional therapy and those are other routes to take to treat illnesses, so why would they tell students not to smoke?

The university is not just taking away students’ rights, but they are also trying to devolve personal choice. If someone chooses to smoke, that is their choice and no one should stand in the
way of that.

In the 2015 survey, it is slated that a majority, 65.2 percent, of students want a tobacco-free policy, while the majority of those surveyed, 81.6 percent, said they do not want to receive information on tobacco use. Were those being polled actually educated on what a tobacco-free policy would entail?

It was admitted in the forum that smoking is at an all-time low and the amount of smokers are decreasing every year.

This tobacco-free policy infringes on students’ rights and it was said that only one faculty governing body has agreed to this policy. This leaves me to question who really wants to pass this disastrous policy because clearly it is not our student legislative body.

The body that we elect to hear and voice our concerns. The body that is elected with the primary goal of helping and promoting
students rights.

I’ve come to the only conclusion is that this is for marketing purposes and not for the safety or well-being of students. If it was for the well-being of students, then it would not be a voluntary policy, but instead a
ban altogether. In the end, the university is not trying to initiate this policy because they care about you, but because of the various marketing opportunities it brings. If they really cared about your health this would not be a voluntary policy, but a ban altogether, which is even
more terrifying.