Flashlight ON: Smoking bans

The Torch recently ran a front page article conjecturing about the possibility of a smoking ban on campus or some other way of alleviating the complaints about smoking on campus.  It seemed like a fair story, but one of my main concerns is that only seven people were mentioned; the mathematical part of me kind of twitches when I read something like this.  Statistically speaking, you can’t say anything important by talking to only 7 people, since all you’ve proved is that those seven people have an opinion about the matter.

So here’s a sample of 57 students, hopefully this can provide a more accurate sample of the St. John’s student and faculty opinions.  Of the 57 surveyed, only 9 (15.7%) were smokers, but 27 out of the 57 people surveyed, or 47.4%, were against a smoking ban, while only 8, or 14%, were in favor.  The remaining 40.3% of students were in favor of restricting smoking to certain designated areas, and for enforcing the current restrictions on smoking too close to a building entrance, particularly the Marillac breezeway.  These 23 students were divided between whether smokers should be restricted from certain areas, or restricted to certain areas, such as only allowing smoking on the green.

More interesting, perhaps, was the the general ambivalence of the student body about this issue…Of the 57 students, 15 expressed a marked lack of concern for the issue, and far more shrugged when asked about how much it bothers them.  Only 7 students were adamantly opposed to smoking on campus.  Far more of a fervent outcry came from the smokers themselves; 4 out of the 9 smokers expressed outrage at the very thought that they’d be asked to leave campus to enjoy their after-class cigarette.

“You have the right to breathe clean air, but on the flip side, you shouldn’t ostracize a whole group of people,” said John, a senior business major.  He’s been smoking since 12, a habit he picked up from his parents and older siblings.  “It’s unfortunate that so many are addicted to tobacco… The school should offer a quitting program,” he said, as opposed to banning cigarettes, citing the success of similar programs run by New York State.

“Why should I be judged?” Frankie, a junior advertising major, agreed, “I hate myself enough for doing it, you don’t have to hate me too.”

Those few nonsmokers with passionate opinions had strong rebuttals, however; “I want it banished from campus,” was one response that I got.

Tom Krajewski, a sophomore biology major, an avid supporter of a campus-wide ban, phrased it that “it’s not really healthy and it affects other people.”

Most students, however, only said that they don’t want to walk through a cloud of smoke on their way to class, so as long as the smokers stay away from the entrances, they really didn’t mind.

– Fernando Arrue

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