I grew up absolutely averse to the idea of smoking. I looked on with crushed spirits as each of my childhood friends went down the rabbit hole and never turned back. As a small child, I was the type who self-righteously coughed as loud as possible when a smoker was in the near vicinity. I thought I was doing the “right” thing.
However, on multiple occasions I have been driven to excuse myself from groups of people smoking socially because increased exposure to smoke caused me to suffer almost immediate nagging headaches. At one point, I even began paying every one of my friends who refused a cigarette socially 50 cent to incentivise non-smoking behaviours.
I am in a position in my life where my father, my sister and my significant other all smoke. My father seemed to always feign ignorance when I would find a pack of cigarettes in his bag. To this day, he slyly sneaks into my sister’s room to grab a few of her cigarettes. The first time I found out my sister ended up going down that path, I was disappointed. Time and time again, I have made Excel spreadsheets detailing a smoking schedule for my significant other that drives the smoker to progressively non-smoking behaviour, upon his requests.
As a new visiting student at Trinity, having the entirety of my classes in the Arts Block, I would never have known there was a controversial smoking ban vote passed on campus. Since flocks of students sat gathered around the benches outside the Arts Block with their cigarettes and rollies. It was just like the curb outside the library in my home university’s “smoke-free” campus.
“A smoke-free campus is virtually impossible. There is no point trying to conceive of a campus without smoking, especially when it is not followed up with some tangible consequences that can be used in its implementation.”
A smoke-free campus is virtually impossible. There is no point trying to conceive of a campus without smoking, especially when it is not followed up with some tangible consequences that can be used in its implementation. Instead of targeting smoking behaviour, I thought I would meditate over the causes for smoking. It turns out that there can be three main instigators, which include social smoking, stress smoking, and the addictive nature of nicotine which can hook users from the first puff.
It was my initial inclination to try to pin responsibility on one of these three reasons. It turns out that all three causes have one thing in common, that being the person who is smoking and their ability to make a choice, which can be constrained by addiction, but in this case impacts others. I have crippling anxiety, but still do not smoke because of how averse I am to this idea. I do however consume a great deal of sugar in my diet, which, like smoking, is highly addictive and detrimental to my health. I see how sugar is not judged as harshly as smoking. Then again, when I consume sugar, I do not inconvenience anyone else around me. I do not leave my “sugar butts” lying around the street.
I think I would continue to identify smoking as a coping mechanism accessible, although expensive, to all who seek it. Taking from my experience, no amount of “concern” or self-righteousness is going to take away from someone else’s choice and behaviour. It is important to be able to prevent someone blowing smoke into your face when you are uncomfortable, or to hold people littering cigarette butts responsible for their actions. While I doubt Tobacco Free Trinity is going to achieve that, I can only hope that it does achieve its goal. A concrete consequence is necessary if the fumes of smoke outside the Arts Block are to be prevented.