New smoking policy has little justification, research

New smoking policy has little justification, research

Cory Spiers

Appalachian State University has instituted a new smoking policy that only allows smoking in designated areas.

The policy mentions health concerns as a major reason for its implementation, along with creating the “practical effect” of a smoke-free campus.

I find the policy puzzling, and I cannot find much reason for it.

The idea that such a policy is addressing health effects is dubious, and it seems that there really are other goals in mind: limiting and eventually getting rid of smoking on campus.

The health evidence for outdoor smoking restrictions is thin at the moment. Currently, research seems to show that while there are some potential health issues, there is not enough to base a policy on this alone.

Columbia University researchers Ronald Bayer and Kathleen Bachynski did a recent report on claims made by advocates of outdoor smoking bans and found they generally did not have great scientific backing.

They quote a representative of the American Lung Association as being skeptical about pushing outdoor smoking bans and restrictions because of the lack of science.

I understand that smoking, because of its negative effects on nonsmokers, can be subject to reasonable regulation. For this reason, indoor smoking bans make complete sense.

I also believe that smokers should be able to smoke in places where they do not endanger the health of others.

As a nonsmoker and one who has no fondness for the smell of cigarette smoke, I can sympathize with nonsmokers who don’t want to breathe in secondhand smoke.

However, after spending a year here at Appalachian, I have never had to worry about any uncomfortable exposure to smoke. I may be in the minority, but I’ve never had to be around smokers but for a span of a few seconds.

Perhaps there are other issues with smoking that need to be addressed. Dr. Susan McCracken, a member of the policy task force, noted that litter was an issue with smoking.

If that is a problem, wouldn’t the placement of disposal containers across campus rather than just in designated areas give smokers more places to throw away their cigarette butts? Perhaps a crackdown on litter in general could also solve this problem.

The policy is obviously not the end of the world for smokers, but it does seem unnecessary. Precautions have been taken against smoking indoors, and there seem to be other things we could do about the problems it poses outside.

It just seems that this policy is about moving Appalachian closer to being smoke free, and I think more evidence is needed before such a policy is justified.

Griffin, a sophomore journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.