The newest phase of the anti-smoking policy at MU is turning out to be completely and utterly useless. The designated smoking areas are so unrealistic smokers are disregarding the rules and the self-enforcement tactics aren’t working.
As of July, the second phase kicked in, making parking lots and garages the only places on campus to smoke.
Rather than MUPD stepping in, students and staff are expected to step in and enforce the rule themselves. Can you imagine asking a smoker to move because they’re sitting too close to you or mentioning to one you’re walking behind that they’re not in a designated area?
Realistically, a student working on a project in the library late at night is not going to wander to a parking garage to light up. If they’re not doing it now, the rate of compliance is only going to get worse once the Missouri winter sets in and smokers have no warm, accessible place to go.
How about students living on campus? Freshmen are strongly encouraged to live on campus, and now MU is telling them they cannot smoke in or near their home? Of course, the residence halls are home to many students, smoking and non-smoking, but by requiring smokers to take long walks to light up, there’s a lack of compliance.
We’re not making this all about the students, either. Faculty and staff members are here working for eight hours a day, and they’re also a part of the MU community. They shouldn’t have to walk to their car on their lunch break.
Since MUPD seems reluctant to get involved, and we find it highly unlikely the average student is perusing the Smoke-Free Mizzou website or taking a class on how to approach someone smoking in a non-designated area, we advocate more realistic smoking areas.
A compromise could be helpful to both parties. Rather than catering only to non-smokers, throw smokers a bone — a covered, designated area or two that isn’t a two-mile hike. Perhaps a designated smoking residence hall where residents will be allowed to smoke right outside the doors could be in order.
A compromise of this sort would encourage smokers to follow the rules and respect their peers. Meanwhile, non-smokers would know which areas to avoid.
We understand it’s good PR to tell everyone it’s a smoke-free campus. It sounds so progressive. Unfortunately, this is really only a PR move seeing as how MU is smoke free in theory, but not in practice.
Basically, we’re not advocating smoking. It’s smelly, annoying and proven harmful even secondhand. But come on, MU. We’re all adults here, and we feel we should still have the right to choose our harmful behaviors. We’re also optimistic enough to think that smokers will have more respect for the rights of others if their rights aren’t being stripped away.