Thursday, July 01, 2010

No Ifs, Ands, or Butts

I'm in the middle of watching multiple episodes of the television
show, Mad Men. It takes place in the early 1960's and in it, everyone
smokes. Cigarettes are not merely props in this show. They are a
major player and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they have their
own dressing room. They were a significant part of life in that era.

Fast forward to today; July 1, 2010. My alma mater, Purdue University
in West Lafayette has announced a complete ban on smoking anywhere
on campus. In general, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but
after reading the article about it, I'm not convinced that the no-smoking
program will be a success.

According to the University News Service article, "Receptacles are now being
placed at 22 approved locations (Purdue is a big campus. After seeing this map,
22 locations is not very generous). Smoking is not permitted elsewhere on
campus or in Purdue vehicles". After seeing a photo of these "receptacles"
(see above photo), I had to laugh to myself that these are in my opinion, a
bit of a joke. I'm struggling to picture a dozen smokers huddling around one
of these "parking meter marries a trash can" devices in West Lafayette's fine
weather from November to April. I don't smoke, but I have friends that do,
and I don't think they should be subjected to huddling around small posts
in the rain or snow.

All of this led me to remember a similar situation that happened
at McMurdo Station a few years ago. It was deemed that there would
not be any smoking in federally-owned buildings on Station. Since
all of the dorms were federal buildings, there would be no smoking
allowed in the lounges. Hence, "smoking shacks" were built to shelter
the smokers when they felt the urge to light up. (Odd that these "shacks"
were also "buildings" but I guess I'm waxing semantics) The trouble is,
nobody uses them. Most smokers stand outside doors to buildings and
puff away, not only ignoring the shacks but alienating non-smokers at
the same time by causing large clouds of smoke (at building entrances)
that must be walked through to enter. In addition, the University News
Service article stated that "Individuals can report violations using the
Smoke Free Campus Concern Form". In other words, fellow citizens/
students should rat each other out!

Lessons to be learned: People are not going to use something that will
point them out as "inferior" to others. use this building or
post because you are smoke (are evil). Also, people in general won't
tell on others, because no form is truly anonymous. People are afraid
of repercussions...and why should they have to do the University's job
for them. Lastly, when it comes down to it, people are by nature, lazy.
They're not going to walk 100 yards to find one of these posts, when
they can duck out a side entrance to a building to light one up.
Designated smoking areas? Good in theory...poor in practice.


Benjamin said...

Eventually, smoking will go the way of the dodo (probably not in my lifetime). It seems like more and more people are quitting every day. However, until the world agrees that ingesting smoke on a regular basis is not a good idea, we need to figure out how smokers and non-smokers can co-exist. The McMurdo "solution" and the Purdue "solution" are both bad ideas. Because of that, they end up causing more second-hand smoke problems then they solve. If people would think about this problem from the angle of the non-smoker and the smoker alike, maybe we would come up with solutions that were more practical and would make everyone happier.

Jude said...

Colorado has a law that you can't smoke in many different businesses, including bars. You're supposed to be 15 feet away from the entrance. Last year, my mother broke her hip which meant I had to visit Rifle's nursing home daily. I complained about running the gauntlet of smokers (both patients and staff). The director responded favorably, but as soon as he left at 5 p.m., the smokers stood in the entryway again. I mentioned this to a friend whose mother broke her hip after mine was recovered. "Oh, yeah," he said. "It's still bad. I have CPOD, so it's a major ordeal to visit my mother in the nursing home." Unlike me, however, he didn't complain about it. He just tried to take a deep breath before he ran the gauntlet to enter the building. So creating a law didn't help those of us with allergies/sensitivities to smoke (although it is much more pleasant to visit a bowling alley since it passed--unless, of course, smokers are hanging out in the entrance).

Eugene said...

British Columbia has a simular 3mentre law but people still huddle around the entrance ways excetra. On Vancouver Island the health authority tried to keep smoking of all health authority property (hospitals) but I see doctors and nurses huddled near the doors to smoke. But Patients have to walk to the other side of the busy road to have a smoke.