I’ve never considered my self as “pro-smoking”, but I couldn’t resist making this smart ass comment when UC Berkeley, known for freedom, think for yourself, tolerance, diversity, and the free speech movement, declared their stupidity by proudly posting that they have succumbed to the political agenda (hidden but obvious to me) of the demonization of cigarette smoking that is mostly based on hysteria, the fears of the public, and other dishonesty. And worse, they have let it affect school policy by deciding to follow the popular trend of banning all tobacco on the premises to make it “smoke free”.
On the post where UC Berkeley is proudly announcing they are tobacco free with this picture of the banner on their alumni association page, I commented on the picture saying,
Good thing you can still purchase alcohol & consume that on campus since drunk college kids are safer & better behaved than smokers. And since it’s so irritating to witness a cigarette being smoked it’s a good idea to make someone walk off campus to have a cigarette because it forces exercise and that’s healthy.
I know taking on the plight, or perceived “oppression”, of smokers may seem odd or silly, but it is SOOOO obvious how political this growing move to ban cigarette smoking from specific areas, like a college campus, is that I have to call them on it.
Full disclosure: I do not smoke regularly but I would be lying if I said I never smoke. I, like most of my friends (yes most, just about 70% of my friends will occasionally sneek a cigarette when going out, if they believe it will be discreet. I still am always surprised by who will ask for a cigarette now and then) might be considered a social smoker. And knowing what I know, I get I might as well confessed to participating in dog fights or wearing fur coats. And for the record none of my sources link to any, and I have never visited any “smokers rights” websites.
I did grow up around smokers, I live with smokers, and I have friends who smoke. Every smoker I have know has been a good person, and even going back generations, only one of these people have had a health concern that may be related to smoking, and she quit the day she found this out.
Political groups pursuing laws against cigarette smoking in the US using the guise of student preferences/comfort/health or the environment to get these “smoke free” policies passed have nothing to do any of that and I’ll make a case why.
First it is essential to understand the long-term goal of all anti-smoking campaign is to make the selling of, purchasing of, having possession of, and smoking of cigarettes illegal. They all are fighting for smoking cigarettes banned 100% in the US. They are open about it and any Google search will show the discussion on this topic is all about the complete control, and 100% ban of all tobacco products, so America will be truly tobacco free. Once this is understood, I think I can easily show what the obvious motive behind & goal of such policies.
*And ironically enough, compared to the useless “just don’t smoke where I have to see it” policies, I actually believe that the ONLY way to help the environment environment & public health of Americans is a law making it illegal. It is when that same reasoning is used to persuade people to support and pass policies that don’t allow cigarette smoking in just certain places (like a university campus) is absurd and what I am addressing in this blog,
So, if you believe taking away the freedom to choose to use tobacco products or not is okay, that’s one thing. Some of the only voices online from the general public who support state the main reason is because it is bad for you. So is animal fat but I doubt any of them, without the heavily funded campaigns telling them it should be banned too, would feel that way. There is a long list of things that are bad for us, and cost tax payer money in health costs, that I have never heard a debate over making them illegal.
I am one who doesn’t think this is constitutional anymore than I think banning cooking with grease is. There is evidence that the volumes of grease that restaurants use is having a huge impact on our environment, AND even more evidence to it’s impact on the general public health of Americans since cardiovascular diseases are still the leading cause of death.
The demonization of cigarettes may have started with attempts of keeping people from starting up a habit that is from what I hear, as hard to kick as heroin, when in the beginning when this campaign used appropriate methods to spread information with facts and statistics. And there are plenty of those to demonize smoking without going all hidden political agenda, using hysteria or playing to fears of the public to alter the collective opinion, and worse, to convince the public they should not have zero tolerance of the bad habits of others, like using tobacco products.
Let me clarify that I find merit, and advocate for not tolerating the habits of others when they violate the human rights, personally affect you in any way, let alone your health, or the health of the planet as a whole. Habits like viewing child pornography, burning on spare the air days, dumping trash or littering or just not recycling at all, wasting electricity, actually being wasteful with anything related to the resources we all share are the first few of these that come to mind. But other people smoking cigarettes, and I mean far away enough from non-smokers to not have to breathe their secondhand smoke, IS NOT one of these. (When someone is smoking close enough to another who is bothered by their second hand smoke, that person should absolutely be confronted and politely ask if they didn’t mind smoking farther away because of heath related concerns with second smoke that you have).
But the current anti-cigarette smoking campaign has nothing to do with the kind of habits mentioned above, and the policies these campaigns are influencing have nothing to do with the anyone’s health or the environment but are way more about the controlling the public’s tolerance with their continued demonization of tobacco, punishing those that use these products, while making it seem a tiny minority still smoke cigarettes,
And at UC Berkeley!! Cal taught me to look for motives behind actions, who is financing what, hidden agendas, how easy it is to sway public opinion, etc. so I couldn’t have been more disappointed to learn that my university has giving in to all the political bullshit and is following the current fad of making their campus “smoke free”.
And “Smoke free”? Pul-eeze (to be read in the most scoffing tone possible). They should at least be honest and say “cigarette smoke free” because almost any university or college campus is anything but “smoke free”, especially say, around 4:20 in the afternoon.
My second point is how has smoking cigarettes has become so frowned upon at the same time when smoking marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable. Policies are being made to ban tobacco while laws are being passed to make it easier to get high. Really?
I’m not even going to go into how you can still purchase and consume alcohol on campus and the real dangers this causes other students since I covered that in my comment to this picture on Facebook. But I will point out that both alcohol and marijuana are behavior altering substances, and while tobacco is not, it has been banned, while the use of, no, the OVER USE of the other two is celebrated.
Let’s talk about Cal & their policy on smoking marijuana. There is technically one on the books, although marijuana isn’t mentioned because it is grouped with other controlled substances. But we all know the amount of (and type of) people that would lump marijuana with crack or heroin as the same and believe they should be address together, are extremely few, and they extremely rare in the educated world. And college campus’ are all about being educated, so this policy is openly violated (and it is widely accepted to do so) daily by multitudes of students all over campus. I am not making assumptions, I graduated from Cal in 1993 and visit it frequently today (and I can only guess it was more prevalent in the 60’s and 70’s). Cal is so relaxed on marijuana use that the national organization, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, graded UC Berkeley’s Drug and Alcohol Policy as a “C”.
And I’m assuming it was given an average grade because it is no different than any other university (that most likely already has, or will soon, a tobacco ban). Weed is so widely accepted that a Ph.D. lecturer for UC Berkeley words are used throughout a 2012 article in the East Bay Express called, “How to Smoke Weed: a UC Berkeley Student Guide”. And further evidence of Cal’s embrace of marijuana is the several UC Berkeley professors, lecturers, and admin that are openly in favor of it’s use, and have been published saying so.
I have no doubt this tobacco policy will be taken more seriously & enforced far better than Cal’s policy regarding marijuana. Especially since so many students are now showing up with their medical cards and some schools have said that campus police will not cite anyone who has one.
Thus, my second point: You can smoke a bowl on campus, but to smoke a cigarette, you must walk up to several blocks to the nearest public sidewalk/street, surrounded by thick crowds of people, many of which are still students, instead of a private corner on campus that is close to your class/meeting. This is beyond frustrating to most of the smokers I know because it is already a task to find spots away from people out of respect, and out of public eye now that this act is deemed as evil by so many. (More than once I’ve heard lighting up in public is starting to feel like shooting up in public, regardless how far you are from others). Maybe the people I know are more conscience and considerate than most others who smoke cigarettes, and the rude behavior of other smokers have led to the need of such banishment. Maybe, I do come from professional and cause supporting activist corners. Maybe their needs to be more useful and effective policies for the ass holes who let their cigarette smoke be inhaled by non-smokers.
Also, policies like these don’t benefit the environment at all. Making people walk to a different location to have a cigarette doesn’t change anything except those that back these policies don’t have to witness it. Ignorance is bliss? I am all for intellectual debate but when the fact that cigarettes are harmful to the environment is used as rationale to pass these policies, it is truly ridiculous.
And how does walking to a different area, especially one that is more crowded with students, alleviate any health concerns of fellow students? It doesn’t, if anything, it makes it worse. I have read that at least one jilted smoker at Cal will no longer seek places away from people and will now light up while surrounded by crowds on the public sidewalks that surround Cal for two reasons. First, out of protest for such a stupid policy and the desire to make it clear people who wish to smoke a cigarette are not the only ones being inconvenienced by it. And second, with the time she will be spending having to walk off campus, she will no longer have the time to seek spots away people like she did when she could smoke on campus, not to mention and the fact these spots on busy sidewalks don’t even exist. I doubt she is alone on this.
And seriously, if smoking killed people as much as these campaigns would like us to believe, we would have lost an entire generation in the 60’s when everyone smoked, and was smoked around, let alone multiple generations of people when you include the 50’s to the 80’s.
I also think it is telling that these silly policies ban ALL tobacco products, including chewing tobacco & electric cigarettes. So touting the purpose is to have a “smoke free” campus while including products that don’t produce smoke, give away the purpose these policies serve for anti-smoking campaigns
So there is my rant why I think these policies are stupid and why I couldn’t resist making my smart ass comment. Please feel free to let me know that I am wrong on this.
—> AND PLEASE FEEL FREE to provide any feedback to this example piece of persuasive writing. I know it is long but don’t know what to delete without weakening my position. I would love to know how readers feel about the strength of my arguments, if any of my points make sense to others, if I have been “persuasive” or not. I couldn’t think of too many other current topics more difficult to defend than smoking in public. I do agree with most of what I have written, but this piece was more about debate and style than making a point.