Symbolic Smoking Bans

There seems to be an accelerating trend for campuses to go smoke-free. That is, not only banning smoking inside buildings, but also in the wide open spaces of the campus. Christian tells me Nelson Polytech will be going smoke-free from 2010, and Jacob Grier points to an Oregon campus making a similar move. I’ve seen a few other such stories in recent months.

As it happens, smoking was banned in all but a few designated areas here at the University of Canterbury at the beginning of this year, with the intention of creating an entirely smoke-free campus in the future. This, apparently, ’embraces a wider vision of a healthy campus and moves towards a smoke-free New Zealand.’ Smoke-free New Zealand, huh? Ambitious.

Why haven’t I blogged about this already? Well, I didn’t know. I knew there was talk of a ban last year, but didn’t hear anything further so assumed it had gone away. If I were the type to read university newsletters and that sort of thing I’m sure I would have been informed, but I’m not and so I wasn’t.  I have continued to smoke outside the designated areas unmolested, and haven’t noticed any reduction in others doing likewise. The solitary change I have noticed, which I only now connect to the smoking ban, is the removal of an ashtray from outside my building (and an increase in butts on the ground, as you might expect).

This sort of ban seems to be about status politics rather than any genuine attempt to change behaviour or respond to the fact that ‘all staff, students and visitors are entitled to a smoke-free environment while on our campus.’ The healthists get warm fuzzies by Doing Something about The Problem, and have their conception of morality formally ratified. Enforcement, thankfully, is entirely secondary and optional.

One Response

  1. […] will be difficult to enforce. I agree, but see this as irrelevant to the purpose of the law. Like banning smoking on campuses, this is about the anointed having their vision of a safe and decent society formally approved in […]

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