Smoking ban? Yes we can.

This article first appeared in Farrago (Issue 5, 2013). It appeared as part of a double-page spread with this piece, written by John Stowell.

When my grade three teacher taught me about the dangers of smoking, I decided to listen to her. One could say this made me a ‘goody-two-shoes’, or perhaps a ‘teacher’s pet’. Personally, however, I preferred to be categorised as ‘not an idiot’.

Image: Tegan Iversen

Image: Tegan Iversen

For the non-smokers reading this, I feel it’s unnecessary for me to explain why I don’t smoke. Like me, you were probably listening to Healthy Harold the giraffe when he told you that cigarettes contained over 4000 chemicals, some of which were poisonous. Like me, you were probably disgusted when you first saw those government-sponsored commercials with the blood and the babies and that veiny oesophagus-like organ lying on the surgeon’s table.

For the smokers smart enough to read, I’ll try to be brief and explain this to you in words you can understand: smoking is bad for you. Like, really bad. The kind of bad that makes you likely to die 14 years before your friends will.

For the most part, my fellow classmates at primary and secondary school were pretty obedient when it came to the no-smoking rule. This changed somewhat during VCE and in the years that immediately followed, when smoking became a symbol of independence, rebellion, and maturity.

I can somewhat understand this trend. Around the time you reach university, a lot of things change in your life. The traditional progression sees you move out of home, find a new part-time job, and make friends with people you don’t hate. For some, it makes sense to tack on one more new thing to that list: take up smoking.

A ban on campus smoking would give people in this vulnerable age range one less opportunity to die.

For smokers, a prohibition may seem a tad harsh. Indeed, a campus ban would force them to either leave campus whenever they wanted to smoke, find secret hiding spots on campus, or try to break the habit.

It’s true that each of these outcomes engenders a nature of segregation, whereby smokers and non-smokers can only congregate with their own type. Even I can smell the fascist overtones in this sentiment, particularly when you factor in my belief about smokers lacking intelligence.

But such thinking disregards the scientifically-backed maxim that all smokers are inconsiderate arseholes. Let’s be frank here; smokers are not only irresponsible enough to damage their own bodies with toxic fumes, but also have the nerve to breathe such harmful chemicals into the same atmosphere shared by fellow humans. Moreover, they often smell repulsive, somewhat resembling that pungent odour that arises when Reject Shop air-freshener is sprayed over a recently vacated restroom.

While a campus smoking ban won’t necessarily improve the personal hygiene of smokers, it will improve the wellbeing of non-smokers. Given that 600,000 people worldwide die every year from second-hand smoke, that’s a fair compromise.

Of course banning smoking on campus won’t fix all the problems associated with smoking; the world will always have its fair share of morons who value bad breath over good health. With that said, a Melbourne Uni smoking ban will force those who frequent the campus to think twice every time they light up.

Given how little thinking most smokers have done in their life to date, this might not be such a bad idea.