New policy unfair for smokers

According to last week’s issue of the STAR, Sonoma State University will undergo a zero-tolerance no smoking rule and join campuses like UC Davis or CSU Fullerton, with San Jose State University joining in August. As a trial period to acclimate students to the new policy, for the next few months, effective  Sunday, there is  no smoking on the campus quad and areas around housing except for parking lots.

This is a threat on the personal lives of people on campus who even every once in a great while like to have an occasional cigarette or a Swisher Sweet. This policy also affects those who prefer to smoke e-cigarettes or vaporizers.

I am a smoker. I have smoked for almost two years. My habit of smoking cigarettes began in the latter half of my freshman year. I remember leaving my dorm and walking back behind Merlot in Cabernet, sitting against the bike racks, smoking and talking to fellow students that came to grab their bikes or throw out their trash. I met new people, caught up with old ones and had time away from my roommate when he was getting under my skin. 

I smoke a lot, but not as much as people make it out to be. When I say I smoke a lot, I don’t mean a pack or more a day, but rather four or five depending on the day. 

Typically, I smoke by the round cement structure outside the library if I have free time in-between classes. I’ve made a lot of friends by smoking, and I even got closer with my non-smoking girlfriend because I went out for a smoke as an excuse to hang out with her and share stories of our lives. 

Smoking cigarettes has shaped a lot of my adult life in these past years. In fact, if I wasn’t a smoker, I don’t think a lot of these events would have even happened. It’s a horrendous habit that I’ve tried to quit in the last six months, but I succumb to the tempting feeling of inhaling chemicals into my body all too easily.

 The student body received an email on Friday stating the new smoking policy. 

The new policy states the term “smoking” counts as “lighting, burning, carrying, inhaling, exhaling or holding a lit cigarette, cigar, bidi, pipe or other smoking or recreational vapor delivery apparatus containing tobacco or another substance.” Additionally, the policy also bans the use of e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.

In my opinion, this is not only a terrible policy to usher in slowly but surely during the spring semester but is also a rule that infringes on what we as students are allowed to do during our downtime. The 20-feet-away-from buildings rule seems to be the most effective policy from what I can see, and it’s worked pretty well thus far. 

The fact that they are implementing this rule for students and employees alike is pretty ridiculous, quite honestly. 

In my experiences of working in Culinary Services, chefs and students wait anxiously for their 10-minute breaks in order to go out behind the Student Center Kitchens and have a cigarette to fight the anxiety and stress that is working in Culinary Services. If anything, the administration should have implemented the slow change in August during the fall semester.

Instead the policy has no signage ushering this in, save for the email the students and administration received and last week’s article, from anything I’ve seen on campus. This is infringing on our own habits and poor stress-management aids, especially for the students who have poor ways of dealing with the stress of school and their non-academic lives, is and downright unnecessary. 

The only times I have seen a “Smoke-Free Campus” sign is around the campus of a hospital, for good reason. Never in my life did I imagine that smoking would not be tolerated in an environment where a majority of people are stressed and need some outlet to deal with their problem before they lose it.

The article states the smoking ban on campus will help users to quit. I know this to be false.

If I want to smoke and can’t, chances are that by the time I get to a parking lot to have a cigarette, I’m going to be three minutes away from having to be seated in my next class, and this will make us smokers very irritable due to the fact we can’t get our fix of nicotine in us to tolerate the day.

The corralling of students into a confined designated spot for the next few months leading up to the ban will just make us smokers feel like outcasts, shunned to where students fight for parking spots.

Whereas the non-smokers will still catch smoke at a more than likely higher concentration than when they pass someone smoking by the quad, the smokers will be looked down upon or given passive-aggressive statements regarding their habit as students walk by.

Yes, the policy does seem sound, and yes, it may even get a few smokers to quit, but implementing this policy with no warning other than an email, and no signage telling us smokers we can’t be outside of Salazar Hall on the stairs smoking in-between classes this coming week or semester for that matter, doesn’t sit right.

What are the repercussions of smoking on campus and getting caught? For a plan so large that is to be implemented so soon, there are a lot of details left unanswered. The smokers on campus will soon learn the hard way, the consequences of having a cigarette or a puff of an e-cigarette on campus.