Smoking ban won’t positively impact universities

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Banning smoking on university campuses may create more problems than it actually solves.

On Wednesday, McMaster University announced that their campus will become completely smoke-free starting in 2018. Cigarettes, marijuana, pipes, hookah, shisha, vapes, cigars and any other devices and substances that produce smoke are included in the ban.

While well-intentioned, the real effect of forcing smokers to either quit smoking or leave campus to smoke will have a more negative impact than a positive one.

Smoking isn’t a healthy decision to make for your body, but it’s your decision to make. The ban isn’t going to stop students and faculty at McMaster from smoking, it’ll only stop smoking on McMaster’s property.

It’s naïve to believe that disallowing smoking on campus will discourage people from smoking at all. Even with a ban like this, smokers with no intention of quitting can’t be forced to do so. Instead, they will end up walking the extra five minutes off campus to smoke elsewhere in the community.

While the plan claims to be in the spirit of creating a healthier campus, all it will realistically accomplish is keeping smoking out of sight. It’s an image-conscious move and becomes no more than a symbolic action if it isn’t followed up with measures to help people quit.

The introduction of designated smoking areas on university campuses is a more realistic route to curb second-hand smoke. Designated areas allow non-smokers to avoid smoke and they give smokers a place to go without taking them far from their studies or workplaces.

McMaster’s new policy isn’t outright a horrible idea; smoking negatively affects smokers and the people around them. Taking measures to curb smoking in pursuit of making students and staff healthier is a good thing. But banning it solely in a confined area doesn’t actually do that, it only pushes the problem out of the universities’ jurisdiction.

Universities need to create a more thorough plan of action if they want to combat smoking on campus rather than the quick fix a blanket ban appears to provide.

— Journal Editorial Board

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