Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2021

Why Hopkins shouldn’t ban smoking on campus

By ISAAC BROOKS | April 18, 2013

Some personal facts: I do not smoke, nor have I ever smoked. I do not condone smoking in the slightest. The odor disgusts me, the littering upsets me, the financial burden and the vast amount of wasted time it imposes on addicts troubles me. I can without hesitation declare that I am ideologically opposed to smoking, at Hopkins or anywhere else.

Even so, I strongly oppose making Hopkins a smoke-free campus. The reason for this is simple: rules are not expressions of ideology.

If Hopkins Kicks Butts passed around a petition calling for the eradication of smoking from our lives, I would support it. But to judge the radical measure they propose, we need to think past the wrongness of smoking to the consequences of the proposed policy.

Hopkins being a smoke-free campus means that there will be no possibility for a smoker to smoke anywhere on campus. Anywhere. No designated areas, no smoking sections.

What this means is that a person who is a smoking addict has three choices: Leave campus every few hours for a smoking break, ignore the regulations, or leave Hopkins.

The first of these is pragmatically impossible. A person who has a fifteen minute break between two classes in mid-campus cannot realistically walk off the grounds every time he or she needs to smoke.

The second option counteracts the whole purpose of the regulations; if it is going occur widely, then the regulation is meaningless from the start.

The third option is morally unacceptable. Though I do not condone smoking, for it to be impossible for a person who is a smoker to attend or work at Hopkins is draconian.

The third option would mean the exodus of the many long-time employees, professors, and student smokers who are part of the Hopkins community. It would mean that many qualified prospective students will turn away from Hopkins because it cannot accommodate them.

I believe smoking addiction is a disability, and it is our duty to ensure that Hopkins is accessible to smoking addicts. I believe therefore that the current proposal will be a great evil to those at Hopkins who are plagued by smoking.

Instead, I suggest an alternative. Apply the principles of the proposal without its radical details. Ban smoking from most of Hopkins, but maintain a substantial number of clearly designated smoking areas.

This will not send the same ideological message as Hopkins Kicks Butts’ proposal, but it will simultaneously allow us to remain largely smoke-free while avoiding the negative consequences of the current proposal.

As long as smoking remains an unfortunate problem in this country, we should fight against it. We should do all we can to prevent the occurrence of smoking addiction.

But as long as smoking addiction is a phenomenon that exists, we must act with moderation and sensitivity to those afflicted. We must not pass a proposal for the sake of ideology when its consequences would be to cause harm; this is especially the case when it harms precisely those it ostensibly is trying to help.

I therefore encourage the administration to resist the calls for a smoking ban. I encourage Hopkins Kicks Butts to emphasize helping rather than acting against those who are addicted to smoking. And, of course, I encourage all smokers to seek help and to quit today.

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