Scroll Top

Campus smoking ban is preferable but not realistic

The idea behind a ban on smoking is good. Banning smoking would only benefit students and faculty here at St. Olaf. 

The air would be cleaner, there would be less first-hand and second-hand smoke and the smell that accompanies cigarettes would be nonexistent on campus. 

Besides the decrease in major health issues, such as the risk of lung cancer, students would also need to find new, healthier ways to cope with stress, thus improving mental and physical health. 

More and more colleges are going smoke-free. 

Michigan State University went tobacco-free starting last August. In California, the state legislature attempted to pass a bill requiring all its colleges to be smoke-free. While this bill was not passed, it proves that law-makers are taking smoking bans seriously. Over 1,400 colleges nationwide are smoke-free. 

There are few things as bad as walking behind someone smoking. Especially on a beautiful spring day when you just want to enjoy being outside, smelling cigarette smoke can ruin the peaceful moment. You cannot breathe in the fresh air because it has been tainted by the overwhelming smell of smoke. 

While I hate getting stuck behind a smoker on my walk to class, even if there was a tobacco-free policy, there is no one around to enforce the rule. It is not like Pub Safe will be scanning the quad on the lookout for perpetrators of this new rule. It is also unlikely that other students would report students for smoking. The easiest thing to do in these situations is to walk away. Yet, once you walk away, there is little need to report the incident.

Furthermore, what would be the punishment for smoking? 

Making the student pay a fine makes the most sense, but if that student is already paying $8 for each pack of cigarettes, a small fine would probably not make a very large impact. The best outcome would be that students would finally accept that their smoking habit is too expensive and quit, but, truthfully, a fine likely will not cause this change. 

There is also another problem with establishing St. Olaf as a smoke-free campus: What happens to students who do smoke?

 As everyone knows, smoking is extremely addictive and hard to quit. Therefore, people who have been smoking will need to have a place to smoke; the college cannot expect students to quit cold-turkey simply because a new policy has been issued. 

Breaking the addiction is oftentimes too difficult to happen in a short period of time. Since St. Olaf is a mostly residential campus, smokers would not even be able to go home to smoke, because home is on campus and therefore smoke-free.

The best solution for St. Olaf would be to create designated smoking areas. 

These areas would have to be accessible enough that smokers would actually go to these areas, but also far enough away that non-smoking students are not encumbered by these new spots. Hopefully, only being able to smoke in designated areas would discourage students from continuing smoking and encourage people to not start smoking in the first place. 

By restricting where people can smoke, people will likely lessen their time smoking because it will be an inconvenience.

Eventually, St. Olaf could work towards becoming 100 percent smoke-free, but for the meantime, St. Olaf must allow some smoking on campus. 

While a smoking ban or designated smoking areas would be an inconvenience for smokers, everyone else on campus would benefit from this policy. 

Furthermore, an altogether ban or a restriction would show that the college is looking out for students’ health and ensure nice, clean air on campus.

Mickaylie Bade ’20 ( is from Hutchinson, Minn. She majors in English.

+ posts