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Smoking Ban is a Miscarriage of University Ideals

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Written by: Communicator StaffMarch 18, 2014

Due to an executive memorandum issued by the office of the Chancellor, IPFW will adopt a smoke-free/tobacco-free policy on university premises beginning April 1. Chancellor Carwein has stated that the decision to implement a stricter smoking policy “has always been a no-brainer” for her, and while her concern for student health might be admirable, enforcing the ban without the input of the student body completely taints her good intentions.

The new ban already possesses a number of questionable points: lumping e-cigarettes in with tobacco products and not allowing students to smoke cigarettes in their cars. But these issues could have been handled in an acceptable manner if students and faculty had been allowed to extend their opinions on the subject.

Forcing students to completely forego the use of tobacco products even though there were acceptable designated smoking areas already in place takes away the personal choice that belongs to every student, which is not what IPFW, as a public university, exists to do.

According to the IPFW website, the university values “respect for diversity” and “the principles of shared governance, civility and open communication among all groups within the university.”

If this is the case, then every student and faculty member, smoker or non-smoker, has been disrespected by the lack of an open forum or public discussion on how the university should handle smoking on campus.

If such a discussion had taken place, the question “…why e-cigarettes???” posed by Maria Torres on the IPFW facebook page could have been answered or debated.

E-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco, and certain models are even nicotine-free, encouraging smokers to cut down or eliminate their cigarette usage and nicotine intake. For an initiative which positions itself in the interest of campus health, it seems antithetical to ban a product which exists to help smokers pursue a healthier lifestyle without being able to provide evidence that the product is harming them. However, students were not given the chance to decide whether they felt the Chancellor’s reasons were even valid enough to agree with her.

In the end, it doesn’t matter so much whether the initiatives would have received extensive support or extreme opposition had the measure been dealt with more openly. Carwein may have the authority to make this top-down decision, but it would only have been fair, and a good faith gesture on her part, to consult the rest of the campus before creating a smoking ban which effects such a large portion of the students and staff members at this university.

Staff Editorial