Campus smoking ban is pushing students away

As a smoker, I feel compelled to finally speak up and no longer be silent about this issue that has now raised itself. This ban on smoking on the Portland State campus is both dangerous to the school and damaging to its smoking students. It is dangerous to this wonderful university on the grounds that smokers like me now have an incentive to leave.

We, as a group of individuals, almost universally accept designated smoking areas and smoke-free zones. Sure, they hinder our ability to fulfill our right to use a legal product as we see fit, but it does smell horrible to others and most people don’t want to smell it night and day. We can see, as respectful members of the community, that other people also have rights, and that there needs to be a way for both smokers and non-smokers to be a part of a community that is diverse in that way.

But this ban signals to me that non-smokers are no longer even trying to be respectful. We smokers are not wanted here anymore, and at least I would prefer if you (universal “you”) were at least honest about your distaste for me. I am happy to just go somewhere else, where I can do my thing in peace and relative acceptance in a community that does not mind me, but I have a right to know when I am not wanted.

This banning of smoking tells me that I need to file my money to some other college that accepts smokers or work on funding a university that will accept smokers. We are a part of the community and we, as individuals, do have a right to not associate with those who do not like us.

For my part, I did want to attend a graduate program here, but this ban does dissuade me from doing so. Without remorse or thanks I must say, I will put in my last two terms and be done with this place. I hope other smokers do likewise. But this gets at the heart of the problem for us as students too. We smokers also require an education, and by banning us from the university we are disenfranchised from the only thing that can secure us a good future. My ability to do my best for my community is now diminished by this ban.

This ban hurts everyone, and it destroys individual prospects at a time when we need them most. Hopefully this too, like most things, shall pass. I just hope it does so soon, for the sake of PSU and myself.