Seen from inbound aircraft, University of Louisville buildings appear to be surrounded by angry protestors. Dozens of students mill about in desultory fashion, always within a few paces of the door. It’s January, why don’t those crazy people go inside? Because they are smoking, and so they can’t.
Ultimately, these students’ exile is a necessary thing, as smokers represent an unpleasantly conspicuous, pungent minority. When coupled with continued research demonstrating that the negative health effects of cigarette smoke accrue not only to users of the product, but those experiencing the smoke secondhand, the nuisance of cigarette smoking has been re-categorized as a genuine public health crisis.
In the wake of this shift in public values are left scores of cranky U of L students, smoking in the snow or rain. Like postal workers undeterred by the varying elements, these smokers persevere, and can be seen in huddled masses across campus. Sadly for this much-maligned group, it has now been determined that these newly formed congregations also disrupt the University of Louisville’s desired aesthetic environment.
In light of the recent Metro Council smoking ordinance, which, though not binding for the university, deserves some acknowledgement according to Vice President of Business Affairs, Larry Owsley, university administrators might revisit the smoking policy. Currently, no rule governs student smoking outdoors, and the result has been that many students smoke near the entryways of buildings. One suggested amendmant to the current policy would require a defined perimeter around buildings, inside of which students are not permitted to smoke.
The proposed rule is unenforceable, and more than a little silly. The Department of Public Safety has genuine problems to address, including theft and violent crime on campus. The DPS is overworked and under-funded â?” rather like the rest of the university â?” and the administration diverts officer hours to cigarette policing at the peril of student safety.
Also, the rule doesn’t give student smokers the credit they deserve. Most student smokers are quite conscientious about confining their habit to environments where it will be the least offensive to nonsmokers. The average smoker is certainly more courteous than the average automobile driver is, and less immediately dangerous besides. Students who smoke outside of university buildings are likely unaware that this is a problem.
In a world of carrots and sticks, contemporary America has broken the rod on smokers’ backs; from time to time, a little incentive goes a long way. If the administration would like to see less smoking near the buildings, then build well lit, weatherproof shelters designated as smoking areas. Provide students a safe, dry place to smoke where they won’t receive dirty looks from passers-by, and most would probably take it.