In July, the University of Florida initiated a campus-wide ban on all tobacco products after students and staff voted in favor of the measure, joining nearly 400 other U.S. colleges that have already done so.
A total ban of on-campus tobacco use is unreasonable and represents an unwillingness to act fairly and cooperatively with the estimated 1 in 5 adults who smoke.
“Contrary to popular belief, we’re not trying to punish people,” UF spokesman Steve Orlando said to the Gainesville Sun. “We’re just trying to help people live healthier lifestyles.”
It is true that cigarette smoking is unhealthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it can cause cancer in the lungs, kidneys, bladder, larynx, cervix and esophagus, as well as contribute to heart disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, bronchitis, emphysema, infertility, preterm delivery and stillbirth.
Despite the negative health effects and overwhelming tidal wave of information arguing against cigarette use, people still smoke. While many try to quit but are too addicted to nicotine, there are countless others who choose to smoke despite knowing the risks, a practice that is well-entrenched in contemporary society.
The negative effects of fattening foods, soft drinks and physical inactivity are widely known to contribute to obesity and the plethora of health issues that affect the 34 percent of Americans who are obese.
But rightly, people are still allowed to enjoy their limited time alive by indulging in bad habits like smoking, drinking and overeating.
Smoking cigarettes, though, contributes to second-hand smoke, while other self-destructive lifestyle habits do not adversely affect those nearby.
Because of this, there should be limitations on the effect that smokers may have on non-smokers. However, intolerance should not lead to the total elimination of smokers’ rights.
Cigarette smoke pales in comparison to the thousands of cars, trucks and other automobiles that constantly pump carbon monoxide and other hazardous chemicals in peoples’ faces as they speed away from crosswalks.
USF Health already bans smoking within a 100-foot radius of all 19 of its buildings, and there are many on campus who want a UF-like prohibition and are working tirelessly to bring the same to USF.
Students, faculty and staff should not have to go an entire day without having a cigarette break, even in the most remote areas, because the possibility exists that a non-smoker will wander by them.
Institutions like USF that promote intellectual freedom risk becoming hypocrites when trying to quell personal liberties such as smoking on campus.