By Josh Williams
Enough time has passed to evaluate the effects that the University of Louisville’s smoking ban has had on campus. In November, a ban went into effect outlawing the use of cigarettes, cigars, and anything else that emits smoke into the air. This ban was controversial due to the fact that it forced students to vacate the grounds of U of L’s campus if they wished to use tobacco products. This threatened the rights of student smokers, while showing favor toward nonsmokers. The intention of this act was to clean up the campus and to alleviate the discomfort of secondhand smoke.
With a lot of general discussion about a need to go green, it was no wonder that U of L decided to take a step toward helping the environment. However, how well did this move help the earth? Not only have the student smokers completely disregarded this smoking ban, but even faculty members, who are supposed to help enforce the ban, occasionally light up. This means that the same amount of cigarette smoke pollutes the air and the same number of cigarette butts litter the ground. The only difference on campus is the signs that read: “Please Respect Our Smoke Free Environment.” In fact, these signs could also be considered litter, as they serve no purpose.
Considering everyone completely disregards the ban, students who wish to travel to class without catching a scent of secondhand smoke will need to plan accordingly. There is no enforcement of this rule, which means smokers travel as they please, smoking wherever they want. Since there is no punishment available, smokers have no aversion to using tobacco products and thus walk and smoke, rather than congregating within the designated smoking zones that were replaced by this ban. In other words, this ban might have done more harm than good.
I am not attempting to choose a side in this argument. Rather, I am addressing the fact that this smoking ban was completely unsuccessful. The air and campus grounds are not any cleaner. I may even venture to claim that they are now worse off, as pointless signs litter the grounds. Nonsmokers still have to breathe in secondhand cigarette smoke all over campus, instead of just around the smoking zones that existed before the ban.
A solution to this would be to revert to the way things were, by utilizing the smoking zones once again. These were effective because they allowed students to legally enjoy their right to smoke, while at the same time respecting the wishes of nonsmokers who could avoid these designated areas. There is a saying that goes along the lines of, “If it is not broke, there is no need to fix it,” implying that the smoking policy the campus had before worked just fine. Why did they want to change it?