Dont fund the smoking ban

Under the direction of USF President Judy Genshaft, a special advisory task force researched a potential smoking ban on USF’s campus. After polling 8,200 students and faculty, it released its recommendation. If all goes as planned, USF will implement a partial smoking ban in the fall semester.

The ban dictates that students cannot smoke within 50 feet of “doorways, breezeways or other areas in which students must pass through to enter a building or common area,” according to the task force’s report. However, proponents of building special smoking sections around campus may be hard-pressed to justify spending University funds on the project.

According to University spokesman Michael Hoad, the ban may come with additional expenditures, such as remodeling entrances to populated buildings like the Library with smoking sections.

Funding such projects could put unnecessary strain on the University, which received significant budget cuts during the Legislative season, and take away funds from more pressing needs.

The concept behind the ban is pleasant, and it’s a well-known fact that cigarette smoke contains carcinogens and toxic chemicals that can cause serious health problems. Yet a partial ban can only be expected to partially remove such risks, and shouldn’t be viewed as a permanent investment.

Researchers in China have recently announced that they have connected the consumption of pickled vegetables with increased rates of cancer of the esophagus, according to Slate Magazine. Many campus dining locations like Subway and Chick-fil-A serve pickles, yet Genshaft hasn’t convened a task force to study a partial pickle ban.

The supposed benefits of the ban are fairly insignificant and do not justify the costs. Already, before the ban has even been implemented, the University has invested time, energy and resources on the issue. The advisory task force has occupied the time of important campus personnel.

Legislatures cut about $22 million in federal economic stimulus money and approximately $24 million in general revenue from the USF System budget. If the ban is already stipulating that there be no smoking within 50 feet of entrances, spending shrinking funds on construction of smoking sections is unnecessary.

Providing a convenient area to smoke would also clash with one of Hoad’s rationalizations for the ban. Many students are trying to quit and the ban would foster their efforts, he said to the Oracle.

Implementing the smoking ban is simply an exercise in the unnecessary – much ado about nothing. It would be almost acceptable, though, if it were not for the expenditure of funds that don’t exist in order to implement it.