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(EDITOR’S NOTE: David Chartrand is an adjunct and the writing coach for a small class of student journalists at Benedictine College where I’m an adjunct. The following editorial piece is a sample of some of the students’ work.)

Smoking Bans

by Hannah Wensel

Benedictine College has taken a leap into fresh air. The debate over     smoking on campus can finally be put to rest, with some clarifications.

Staff, students and campus guests are no longer permitted to use tobacco-filled product on campus property. The ban, which took effect July 1, includes, but not limited to e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, smoking pipes, and cigarettes. Those who wish to breathe in a little smoke can do so, off of school property. Free maps are available to anyone needing a definition of “campus property.”

The smoking ban was a timely, well-considered decision reached after extensive debate and discussion. All viewpoints were heard. It took effect July 1 following a six-month transitional period to allow smokers to adjust, or seek help. Benedictine has offered to cover the cost of smoking cessation courses at Atchison Hospital for those with a tobacco addiction.

Not that any of this was much comfort to critics of the new policy. Opposition to the smoking ban focused heavily on a misguided interpretation of personal freedom, as if individual r

ights had no bounds. Some smoking activists argued that, as adults, college students should be free to make their own decisions on such matters.

Colleges students are adults, indeed. And like all adults, they are free to take personal risks insofar as such risk-taking doesn’t jeopardize the health, safety or property rights of others.  An adult is free to smoke in his own living room unless smoking is prohibited by the owner of the room, such as an apartment landlord or a college campus. Restaurants, banks, hotels, movie theaters and virtually all government agencies now impose smoking restrictions. The rule at most retail shops is, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”  It applies to all adults, including college students.  Next time you decide not to pay a utility bill or insurance premium, try using the, “I’m an adult, and I’ll do what I want” argument.  Let us know how it turns out.

Other critics characterized the smoking ban as a blow to ca

mpus community spirit, namely, the community of those whose common ground involves smoking.  The opposite outcome is more likely.

The smoking ban compels smokers and non-smokers to co-exist in a manner that is fair and healthy for everyone.  The new rule violates no one’s rights. Smokers can still smoke, creating a new incentive for students to explore the rest of Atchison.

Benedictine College can finally exhale with relief that the air has cleared and the debated has ended. The only remaining question is, “What happens if I exhale my tobacco filled lungs a little to close to campus?”  The answer appears on pp 97-99 of the latest student handbook. Visit www.benedictine.edu and click the tabs for “Resources” and  “Student Handbook.”  Read it before your next smoke break.

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