COLUMN: Tobacco ban or not, smokers will find a way at OU
Dayton Clark, The Oklahoma Daily
- Yes 56%
- No 44%
9 total votes.
This fall, nicotine addicts like myself will have an additional monkey on their backs as we get back into the swing of school.
A tobacco ban is officially in full effect. It applies to the entire campus — which is probably quite a bit bigger than you think — and all buildings and lands owned or leased by the university, including vehicles. Look at the campus map on oZONE, everything tinted tan on the map is OU property.
A first violation of the ban results in a warning, a second violation is a $10 fine and a third violation will cost $50. That’s a lot of money as far as I’m concerned, so my options are to walk off of OU property to smoke — if I have time — or creep around campus all nimbly-bimbly, sneaking drags of cigarettes in the nooks and crannies of our honorable institution.
How did I get to this place, where I’m either walking down Lindsey Street for no reason three to five times a day or I’m evading the police between Philosophy of Aesthetics and Major Figures in Literary Theory?
I started smoking in high school when I was invincible. Then I went into the military, where time could be measured in cups of coffee and smoke breaks as easily as hours and minutes. Now I’m out and trying to quit for good, but it’s not going so great. Last semester, as soon as the stress hit, I was compulsively buying a pack of lights. I’m a raging addict. I know it, and I’m wrestling with it. But I’m not alone.
About 28 percent of college students smoke, according to an ABC news report. I was unable to obtain national or local data on smokeless tobacco use, but it can’t be far behind judging by all of the spit bottles in campus trash cans.
According to the same report, most of the students who leave OU as smokers will have started smoking here, which is sad. The biggest contributing factors to starting a nicotine habit are weight loss and alcohol consumption. Help your friends out and give them a hard time if they start smoking.
President David Boren initially intended to have two designated smoking areas on campus, which I found to be a good compromise. It would eliminate walking through clouds of smoke around buildings and sidewalks, while still accommodating people who are sincerely addicted and need it to focus in their next class.
I appreciated this compromise, and as a smoker, I was satisfied with my end of the deal. I was prepared to smoke only in designated areas and to keep those areas as clean as possible by policing up stray cigarette butts, something I do anyway in gardens and fountains around campus. It felt like a win-win outcome.
Enter Gov. Mary Fallin, self-proclaimed proponent of smaller, less-intrusive government and individual rights. Fallin signed an executive order recently, which completely banned smoking on all state property, including OU.
It seems to me that Boren considered the best interests of the students and the surrounding landscape. Fallin appears to have considered only the political end of the decision, leaving a sizeable group of us alienated when a solution was already in place. Thanks, Governor.
Unfortunately, now we are left at an impasse, the place where I and about 6,678 of my fellow smokers at OU are faced with being agitated all day or becoming cigarette ninjas.
I watched the same thing happen at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond before I transferred to OU. Every alcove and cubby on campus has two or three students or faculty huddled in it between classes, quickly smoking and looking around nervously. It’s undignified.
In addition, the sidewalks, yards and parking lots across the street from the campus are littered with cigarette butts and grouchy-looking smokers, the ones who had time to make the walk to an approved smoking area, which in many cases is someone’s front yard.
Ideally, Boren would ignore Fallin and give smokers a place in one of the parking lots. It’s totally fair to give people a fine if you have provided them with a place to smoke away from the buildings and the South Oval and they break your rule anyway.
Nicotine addicts are junkies — they will do some crazy stuff for a cigarette. A fine definitely falls into the category of acceptable risk versus the alternative — withdrawal.
Giving people nowhere to go if they have a tight schedule is forcing their hand. A few will hopefully just quit, and if they can, good for them. The rest of us who smoke or dip are going to break the rule sometimes.
That’s my prediction, based on what I know of myself and smokers in general. It all seems like such a waste of energy and makes me that much more annoyed with myself for ever having started in the first place.
Let the game of hide-and-seek begin. Good luck, and welcome back.
Trent Cason is a literature and cultural studies senior.