When people feel strongly about an issue they tend to overreact without considering every aspect of it. While this is somewhat natural as a first response, as mature adults living in a complex and diverse society it is our responsibility to consider all sides and solutions to a problem before setting a policy.
It seems like one of the topics that generates more knee-jerk reactions than any other nowadays is smoking, and Whatcom has had its own set of issues regarding smoking on campus in the past. With rumors of Whatcom joining other schools across the country in becoming a smoke-free campus, the debate is rising to the surface again.
The student council recently held a public forum in the Syre courtyard, where many smokers gather, to hear students’ opinions on the matter and the responses were mostly the same as they have always been. While the majority of those who smoke said they would be fine with more restrictions many non-smokers were in favor of an outright ban on smoking.
An outright ban on smoking really would not be realistic for Whatcom, as any walk across campus will show you. The portion of students that smoke on campus are very visible.
We already have designated smoking areas on campus and smoking near building entrances is restricted, so why doesn’t the college just enforce the policies already in place? Enforcing an outright ban would require more staff, especially since the parking lots would be included in the ban.
If smoking is such a big issue on campus why can’t the two sides meet somewhere in the middle and find a solution? Student Council has tried to address this problem in the past with a similar public forum and planned on painting lines around doorways to remind smokers to stay away, but that never actually happened.
I think the best solution in the short term would be for everyone to be more considerate of those around them. If you smoke, do it in the smoking areas or away from crowded areas where it may bother other people. While I think people should be free to smoke on campus if they choose to, if it remains a problem then I think the college would be justified in issuing tickets to those that ignore the rules.
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