Monday, September 29, 2008

Maybe I need a gut-punching intervention

When I quit smoking, I swore I'd never be one of "those" ex-smokers. Perhaps though that metamorphosis is inevitable: the sense of superiority that comes with not only conquering an addiction but also not smelling like ass on a daily basis is pretty hard to ignore, especially when someone who has no claim to said superiority seems intent on sharing their ass-smelling sticks with the general public. Nary a day goes by when I don't restrain myself from punching someone in the gut for idly blowing smoke into my face. But I work on a college campus, so them's the breaks I guess. Except that apparently PA public colleges are trying to outlaw smoking at all on campus property. And smokers are pissed.

I haven't read the act itself, and I'm not even sure I think the premise is sound. But the Time article that made me aware of this little gem is making me crazy with the silliness already.

"It's one thing to stop smoking indoors, but who are they to control what happens outside?" says Steve Dugan, a 20-year-old freshman at Clarion University. "To do so is an infringement on our fundamental right to personal choice."
Really? In case you haven't noticed Steve there are infringements on "our fundamental right to personal choice" (what does that even mean, honestly) all the time. It's called living in a society. It may be my fundamental right to punch you in the gut for blowing smoke in my face, and sure I can exercise that right, but there are consequences, which are in place to protect you from my rights as it were. The consequences both of smoking oneself and subjecting others to smoke are well documented. So why does your "fundamental right to personal choice" get to trump my right to lead a life without having carcinogens blown into my face?

Then there is the keeping the children safe argument:

"Do we really want 18-year-old girl walking by herself off-campus at 2 a.m.?" Dugan asks. "All we're asking for is a compromise that considers students' needs here."
Hey, I wanted to drink Stoli on my way to English comp class, and I wasn't allowed to do that, even though I had a drinking problem. Since when do laws or even campus policy have to be ordered in such a way to benefit addicts?

In response to all this, students have been holding "smoke-ins" on all affected campuses over the last week and a half. Because that's a great way to garner sympathy: increase your smelly output. As I said, I haven't read the law, and escaped law school by the skin of my teeth and therefore can't say whether such a thing is actually infringing a bit too much on all those pesky rights of ours. But it would be nice to not have to hear shit like this:

"If I'm going to get in trouble for smoking outside," Slippery Rock University senior Alex McGill told her campus newspaper, "I might as well just light up in class instead of going out in the wind and rain."
So much for diplomacy and compromise. I might as well just start punching people in the gut if I'm going to eventually die from lung cancer due to their carelessness anyway.

I'd like to state for the record that, not only would I have probably said the immediately above when I was a 21-year-old smoker, but I probably would have followed through. And yes, I put the Stoli in an orange juice container and still aced Expos.


Star said...

I was thrilled to hear of the smoking ban on campuses. A small part of me is also glad to hear that today's young people are moved to protest something! A smoke in may not be a sit-in, but we'll take it.
If you get this twice, I apologise. Blogger ate my first attempt.
And my second. Maybe the third time is the charm.

Kelli said...

Ha! But I remember when you used to ask to have smoke blown in your face. LOL!