Opinion | Miami's smoking ban full of hot air unless enforced
Published: Monday, September 19, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2011 21:09
"All Miami University Campuses are designated Smoke-Free Environments," says the Miami University Student Handbook 2011-2012 edition. Didn't get a chance to read the handbook? The hundreds of signs and postings on all of the buildings should be plenty obvious then, since it is state law they are printed in color.
Yet, every time I walk on campus, I see multiple people smoking. Students are the main offenders, but employees smoke on campus too, though out of view from their bosses.
The usual smoking hangouts are outside the libraries and in front of the residence halls. Don't be confused though, it happens throughout the campus despite the university's hard stance against tobacco.
There are, of course, with any laws, exceptions and loopholes. The exact rule is no smoking on university property. For instance, Miami does not own the west side of Campus Avenue. Also, anyone in his or her own personal vehicle can light one up. Both of these defeat the purpose of the ban. The wind can blow smoke from across the street, and if all the windows down in the car then it is completely pointless to have the ban.
In addition, the President can grant zones for overnight guests of the university staying at any hotel or lodging type facilities on campus, such as the Marcum Conference Center.
The arguments in favor of smoking stand on shaky ground. It lowers stress levels. Others argue that is their constitutional right to slowly kill themselves.
Smoking is addictive. Smoking causes cancer. Second hand smoke causes cancer, and when smoke blows into other peoples' vicinity, it stops being one person's constitutional right and becomes the public's problem. So on and so forth with the other hundreds of arguments against it. The argument isn't whether smoking is good or bad, even though experts, scientists and people with common sense know it is a waste of time, money and good health.
The problem is why it isn't being enforced. Miami enforces parking laws to a letter, laws that do not hurt anyone. Yet, it won't enforce a rule that protects its inhabitants from disease.
Granted, it is not entirely up to the role of formal officials on campus. Fellow students need to each other accountable. It is easy.
"Would you please not smoke here? Thank you."
Polite. Direct. Quick. Still, a few oppose the rule and condemn you for asking by give the bird (middle finger) or scream at you.
For those people resistant to common decency, the university should be stepping in and enforcing their own law. The Miami University Police Department (MUPD) has more important things to do, so it falls on other leadership positions on campus.
Around the resident halls, resident assistants (RAs) and the advisors should be enforcing. It is disgusting to have someone else's smoke blow into your room. Of course, some of the RAs and advisors will need to follow the rule first themselves, even if it means Susan Vaughn and the rest Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution is working 12-hour shifts. To not enforce the ban is not only hypocritical and makes the university appears weak.