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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    To put out smoking on campus, bans must address causes of smoking

    If you’re familiar with the UA campus, you know that the red-brick courtyard outside the Main Library and the path between the Administration and Modern Language buildings are smoker’s enclaves.

    Even I can occasionally be found outside the library with a lit menthol tucked between my lips, avoiding eye-contact with passersby who scornfully glare at me as if I’m committing a cardinal sin.

    Before you wag your finger at the next good-for-nothing smoker you see, realize that smoking isn’t exactly a habit of choice. Once you become addicted to nicotine, smoking becomes both a psychological and physical addiction that’s almost impossible to kick.

    And contrary to popular belief, most smokers don’t go around trying to impress with their rancid smoker’s breath and hacking cough. A person’s decision to start smoking is usually motivated by a desire to alter their image or an inability to cope with stress and anxiety.

    Once they realize that smoking is costing them hundreds of dollars a year and endangering their health, the habit often becomes a source of shame.

    It’s easy to understand why. Smoking-related illnesses, like cardiovascular and lung disease, are among the leading causes of death in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the adverse effects of smoking account for 443,000 deaths a year.

    The effects of smoking have prompted many universities to implement tobacco-free campus policies in an attempt to promote health and well-being by discouraging smoking and helping current smokers begin the process of quitting. There are more than 700 universities nationwide that are 100 percent smoke free and the number is growing.

    Unfortunately, an across the board tobacco ban will fail to achieve its intended goals, unless the underlying causes of smoking are addressed. As we’ve learned from prohibition and the failed war on drugs, the outright ban of any substance always has the counterintuitive effect of increasing consumption.

    The University of Arizona Health Network’s tobacco ban is an example of a tobacco-free policy that will definitely yield results. UAH prohibits the use tobacco products both outdoors and indoors, but also offered smoking cessation treatment to patients, employees and their dependents.

    The Quit & Win Tobacco Free Living is a weeklong program that includes a physical exam, lab tests and a personalized quitting plan. The innovative Helper’s program also teaches employees how to talk to smokers in a non-confrontational and supportive way.

    Quit & Win would be difficult to implement university-wide, but if those charged with crafting university policy truly cared about discouraging smoking and promoting health, they would find a way to make it work.

    Arizona State University’s tobacco-free policy is one the UA would do well to avoid, as it only bans the use of tobacco products through soft enforcement. It is an approach almost guaranteed to fail.
    Legislating against human appetite can be difficult, because at the end of the day, when people want something, they’re going to find a way to get it, regardless of the obstacles they have to overcome in the process. But, if we use our heads and learn from the mistakes of the past, it can be done.

    — Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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