Reilly Van Dyke, Staff Writer
As of January 1, 2014, the use of tobacco products will be banned on all 64 SUNY campuses. This will ban the smoking of cigarettes and the use of any other tobacco products among 468,000 students and 88,000 employees. While a state law is still needed to enforce this new policy, it’s been passed by the SUNY board of trustees because they feel it is a serious health issue.
One benefit to having this law passed is that it will create cleaner campuses for college students. A non-smoking freshman who wishes to remain anonymous said, “There’s just so many people smoking around here and it’s unnecessary. They can go off campus.”
While having a tobacco-free policy put in place and enforced would mean having cleaner college campuses, healthier students and less littering, this may be an infringement upon smoker’s rights.
Alex Kanter, a sophomore smoker, said, “You can’t tell me what I can put into my body. I’d understand having a smoking designated area, but banning it altogether is just unconstitutional. Personally, I’m very respectful towards others when I smoke. Banning this violates every right I have as a smoker and a person. If it’s legal to smoke, how can you say that I can’t?”
While both students presented different opinions, each felt that even if the law is passed, it will be difficult to enforce. This brings up the question of whether or not the law will be put into place at all come 2014.
When asked whether or not the law will be enforced well enough to be effective, the first student said, “Probably not. People will smoke wherever they feel like it.”
Kanter said, “I don’t know how you’d enforce that—people will still smoke on campus.”
While the idea of a tobacco-free policy was originally put in place to create a positive change, it presents a conflict; do the SUNY campuses become cleaner and healthier for students and faculty? Or are rights to legally smoke being challenged? One has to question why we should not be allowed to smoke—if smoking is legal, why not?
Furthermore, there are the rights of those who don’t smoke that have to be considered as well. According to the American Cancer Society, non-smokers who breathe in second-hand smoke take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals just like smokers do, and can cause harmful diseases in non-smokers.
The compromise to this situation would be to have designated smoking areas. Another student that smokes, who also wishes to remain anonymous, said, “I think some would argue that it violates the rights of smokers, and some would argue that allowing smoking violates the right for people to breathe clean air. I think the best thing to do would be to have smoking sections. It makes no sense that ashtrays are put at the entrances to buildings where the most heavy foot traffic is.”
With both issues at hand, 2014 may or may not bring a new set of rules that will affect all students at many colleges throughout New York State.