State campuses enforce smoking ban, students protest bold move

By Candice Wajnarowski
October 2, 2008

On Sept. 11, in the state of Pennsylvania, 14 colleges and universities banned smoking on campus premises.

What was once considered just another part of people’s daily routine would now carry sanctions, and up to a $400 fine. Smokers would have to take their cigarette breaks off campus.

It is an act the government hopes will lead to dramatically reduced cases of smoking-related diseases and will encourage more smokers to quit.

Opinion on the ban differs drastically among students. The protesters, surprisingly enough, seem to include a wide number of non-smokers.

While non-smoking students clearly don’t want smoke blown in their faces, many don’t feel the ban is fair.

The debate has also reached campuses where smoking isn’t restricted, or is only partially constrained. Feelings towards the ban seem to be just as diverse across the various campuses, and among the various students.

Danielle Finnegan, senior elementary education major, said, “It’s a matter of freedom, of personal choice. I don’t smoke, but I respect another individual’s ability to make that choice for themselves.”

Penn State is one of the universities that maintain a partial smoking ban. Many buildings and pathways on campus don’t allow cigarette smoke, but there are certain designated smoking areas. When the idea of instituting a total ban was posed, an interesting but heated debate erupted between two students.

Anne Standish, sophomore psychology major and former smoker, strongly supports the idea of a smoking ban while her friend and classmate, Marcus Siniari, freshman history major and current smoker, strongly objects.

Siniari said, “If health care and medical professionals can smoke outside hospitals, I think students should be allowed to smoke outside classrooms.”

To this Standish responded “It’s not like schools are saying students can’t smoke. They just don’t want it on their property, which is, in the end, their right to request. I think the fines are a bit ridiculous, but they are only meant to enforce the ban.” ?”Penn state has the right idea now,” Siniari said about the partial ban. “I mean 30 years ago people smoked inside classrooms, ashtrays were everywhere. I think that’s a bit too severe, but so is a total ban. There should be designated areas, the smokers can smoke and the non-smokers don’t have to be near it. Compromise.”

Standish disagrees however. “Wow, you’d have to walk another whole five minutes out of your way to have a cigarette. I mean I’m not choosing to put a cigarette in my mouth. Why should smoke be in my lungs because of someone else? Talk about unfair.”

While violation consequences are gentle right now? asked to put out cigarette and often given a “tips to quit” pamphlet? administrators have assured students this will not always be the case.

Rather than informing the student of the new ban, campus and police officials will begin handing out fines.

Candice Wajnarowski

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