A Smoker’s Response

March 3, 2011 § 4 Comments

First of all I am a Senior at Auburn in the College of Engineering. In addition to that, I am an active tax payer, an active member in the Auburn family and community, a musician, a brother, a son and to many a friend. I try to live my life by the Golden Rule, do to others as you would have others do to you. Now, I like to smoke tobacco. I find that it helps ease the stress of a heavy course load and also after a cigarette, I am able to derive the patience and serenity to put up with unjust things in the world outside of my control. Among all those things I have told you about myself, I am sure that there is something you found out about me that perhaps you see in yourself. With that being said, am I so different than you that I cant so much as inhabit the same classroom with you, or be around small children if my clothes smell like cigarettes? I found that comment horribly offensive. Also, are we such second class citizens that our apparent ignorance and self interest is deserving of your pity? A resounding no! Despite what many of you seem to believe, we do know the effects of smoking on ourselves and others and we do not need your blatantly obvious reinstatement that “smoking is bad and if only someone would tell smokers that they cant do it anymore then they would quit and in doing so we’d pay the national debt, end the war in Iraq, and shit lollipops for the rest of our lives.” In closing, if this is to be a fair debate to both sides involved we have to abandon the idea that banning smoking is the “right” side and that we smokers must overturn the current agenda if we wish to keep our freedoms. Finally remember that “Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities.

-AU Student

§ 4 Responses to A Smoker’s Response

  • Annabelle says:

    Honestly, did you pay any attention in your American government/political science class? Or did you take one at all? While you are correct in saying that individual rights are not subject to public vote, and that the rights of minorities in this country are protected, I think you are missing some vital facts about what exactly our individual rights are. You have identified yourself as a smoker, and thus a part of a minority, as you stated in your conclusion. But neither our state nor the US constitution protects your right to smoke.

    If you were to rebut my comment with an educated response, you would probably make one of two arguments about how smokers are protected under the constitution. First, like many others have tried to do, you would argue that smokers are protected by the fundamental right to privacy granted by the state and federal constitution. Second, you would argue that the equal protection clause in the constitution protects your right to smoke. Let me address these two arguments that you referenced in your remarks at the end of your post.

    First, our privacy rights that are protected by the constitution refer only to marriage, contraception, family relationships, and the rearing/education of children. In addition, only individual rights that are “fundamental,” or related to an individual’s bodily privacy and autonomy within the home, are protected.

    Second, the reason for the equal protection clause is to ensure that the government will not treat certain groups of people differently without good reason. However, these groups of people that are protected under the equal protection clause must be characterized by an “immutable characteristic determined solely by birth.” Smoking is not an immutable characteristic, such as gender, race or national origin. The equal protection clause also prohibits discrimination against “fundamental interests” that require equal treatment. These fundamental interests include the rights to vote, to be a political candidate, to have access to courts, and to migrate between states. Smoking is not one of them.

    Your argument has no legal basis. And I read the paper too, and there was no mention of “shitting lollipops, ending the war in Iraq, or paying the national debt.” If you really believed in the Golden Rule, you wouldn’t put words in others’ mouths, obviously meant to instigate offense. And I think the reason that people are considering a smoking ban is out of concern for overall public health, not to make people feel bad about their personal lives. So please try not to get offended.

    –Annabelle

  • Patrick says:

    First of all, I agree with above poster that, legally, Auburn has the authority to ban smoking. If you don’t believe me, try bringing a forty to class sometime… Odds are that somebody will point out that you’re not supposed to have alcohol on campus (If you’re rolling your eyes already, keep reading).

    To me, the question is one of principle, and fundamentally one of negative and positive rights. By the above standard for what can be enforced, Auburn could ban boat shoes and visors if they wanted to… If enough people complained. Perhaps such attire detracts from the educational atmosphere, or is unfair to students with feet that point backwards, etc.

    At the end of the day, it shouldn’t make a difference whether people – even most people – don’t like what I’m doing. You don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke, I don’t like the sound of Southern accents. Same thing, and that’s the key.

    But wait – secondhand smoke is bad, right? If it could hurt people, we could ban it for the same reason, say, shooting people is illegal. Part of the government’s job is to keep citizens from taking away each other’s rights. The problem here is this: outdoor second-hand smoke is not a legitimate health risk. If you read the recent SG report, it punts on quantification and only directly discusses SHS in 10 places in 600 pages (if memory serves). If you go to the original sources – the reports – you discover things like this: to get a dangerous (according to EPA) amount of toxins from SHS, you’d need to be 4 feet away (downwind) from 4 smokers for several hours.

    There’s no safe level of the toxins in cigarette smoke? We’re all screwed then, since all air contains most of this stuff already… And it’s not coming from cigarettes, but burning fuel, leaves, etc.

    I guess my point is this: at the root, this is about people thinking smoking is stupid and that smokers are weak, stupid animals for doing it. While you’re entitled to your opinion, I respectfully disagree.

  • Orville says:

    Well no I didn’t take government because I’m in engineering school.

  • tom4444 says:

    Exactly what the poster above said, “at the root, this is about people thinking smoking is stupid and that smokers are weak, stupid animals for doing it.”

    It’s fine to think that way and even talk that way. I’m not a law student but it just makes common sense that when a prejudice turns into enforced policy and enforced laws that push a ‘certain’ habit of a person from all public settings without any other reasonable cause then the prejudice itself, that it could easily be called discrimination! Maybe there is not a direct sentence in the constitution that says, “You have the right to smoke”, but let me tell you this. There is also not a direct phrase in the constitution that says, “You have the right to breath the cleanest air possible!” So I suppose neither side has any individual rights in the matter and the decision should be left up to the OWNER of the particular property.

    Which at large at a Univeristy would be controlled by the student body. So in this particular instance I would say they aren’t stepping out of bounds but I would say it would do the world a great service is people in general could be more TOLERANT of each other. Majority hates smokers, but there really is no reasoning for it. Many smokers are good people whether they like to believe it or not and should have the same access to public education as anyone else! It’s a fault of society and there self-centerdness which seems to be growing wildly out of control as time goes on.

    It has and never will be about health of non-smokers as can be seen in all studies done on the subject if one takes the time to READ the actual study instead of just quoting the local anti-smoking movements paid info ad. Realizing the anti-smoking movement turns over billions of dollars every year to rile up society is a first hint at why it is so effective.

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