Where there’s smoke, there’s zealotry

Brian Jones
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Strangely, the scholars who run Memorial University chose the midst of its Havin’ A Time reunion to publicly brag it has moved another step closer to becoming totally smoke-free.

MUN’s administrators can make such a self-congratulatory boast because, as experience has shown, the majority of students and faculty will sheepishly cheer their wise and beneficent edicts to make the world a healthier, cleaner place devoid of hateful habits and discarded butts.

Count me as one alumnus (Class of ’95) who is ashamed of, appalled by and aghast at the hypocrisy, bullying and irrationality of MUN’s impending total smoking ban, set to fully arrive next year.

It is tempting to lament MUN’s decline, except that banning smoking on campuses has reached epidemic proportions at universities high and low, including even the august Harvard University.

Post-secondary administrators are hopelessly addicted to banning cigarettes.

Perhaps researchers in the faculty of science can invent a new kind of patch — administrators could stick it on an arm, providing themselves with a daily fix of micromanaging other people’s lives without their actually having to do so.

It falls to the alumni to point out to students, faculty and administrators how petty and petulant their policies have become.

Let’s start with this: you are degrading the very concept of the university as a bastion and defender of free thought.

I’ve written about this issue before.

Each time, I am amazed anew at the angry and frothy responses from students and faculty alike, condescending and arrogant in their ability to utterly miss the point.

Health issue

Predictably, administrators couch their authoritarian actions as a health issue, and their cheerleaders in the classrooms and dormitories accept this explanation without even turning to the glossary to look up “freedom of choice.”

It is not in any way a health issue. It is a zealotry issue. It is, “Do as I say, because your habit disgusts me.”

Cancer is not the issue. Addiction is not the issue. Second-hand smoke is not the issue. Lying, manipulative profiteers in the tobacco industry are not the issue.

The issue is freedom of choice, and the right of adults to determine and take responsibility for their own decisions and their own actions.

“But smoking is unhealthy.” Irrelevant. You get an F.

“But cigarettes are dirty and stinky.” Moot point. You get an F.

“But second-hand smoke will kill me.” Zealotry. You get an F and academic probation.

Let’s update the old 20th-century cliché about putting men on the moon; in the 21st century, they can put a robot on Mars, but they apparently can’t construct a smoking room that won’t poison innocent passersby.

What kind of engineers are they educating these days, anyway?

A few separate air ducts should do the trick.

Then post a sign over the door: “All ye who revile smoking, abandon this place.”

The cultural battle was won a generation ago.

Many professors are of an age that they can remember — to the shock of today’s students — an era when teenagers were allowed to smoke in high school cafeterias. Most graduate students are likely too young to recall a time when smoking in the workplace was allowed, and common.

Those days are, quite rightly, long gone.

But zealotry remains. MUN administrators say they will rely on the “university community” to enforce the new total smoking ban when it comes into effect. It will be a campus of spies and snitches. Images of the former East Germany come to mind. MUN should ditch its motto, “Become,” and adopt “Report your neighbour.”

It’s reunion time. Let’s pour a drink, and toast our alma mater. Or has MUN gone dry?

Brian Jones is a nonsmoking desk editor  at The Telegram. He can be reached at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Mars, East Germany

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Recent comments

  • gene
    August 30, 2012 - 11:29

    Mr. Burke: You're terribly confused (in more ways than one). Traffic lights can be convenient for pedestrians, especially at some intersections, but are instituted primarily to keep cars coming from different directions, often at high speeds, from crashing into each other. They are absolutely necessary; few would argue traffic lights are not a proper function of government. I can't believe someone needs this explained to him; it's not a difficult concept. Try to look at things _without_ your agenda's thick glasses.

  • Eli
    August 16, 2012 - 12:10

    Remember the slogan: "More, more, more, more. they come by the score, more people smoke Camels than ever before". There was another one, came on the scene about the time we got black & white T.V.: "Smoking is good for you". I still see a clip of that now & then on CBC. Oh, we were hoodwinked alright.

  • Colin Burke
    August 16, 2012 - 08:40

    Gene's sarcasm about traffic lights robbing drivers of their freedom reminds me that government's providing traffic lights for the safety (and convenience) of people who have already surrendered personal initiative to mechancial contrivance does restrict the freedom of people who can still walk and would not need traffic lights to rule their movements if "drivers" -- who really have less "drive" than walking requires -- had not made walking dangerous. So you see, Gene, that an attitude you tend to ridicule can represent some degree of rationality.

  • Michael J. McFadden
    August 16, 2012 - 05:31

    Chris and Butch, are you roommates? Or perhaps two minds in one head? Butch's post was written immediately after Chris's which is what prompts me to ask. In any event, you were speaking of brain damage, and it occurred to me that your postings seem to give evidence of the symptoms of ASDS (AntiSmokers' Dysfunction Syndrome) It's a very debilitating condition that harms not only you, but those around you as well. Google the phrase "Recovery From ASDS" to learn more about it and perhaps start on the path to full recovery. - MJM

  • Butch Sadowsky
    August 13, 2012 - 09:09

    Whoever really wrote this pro-tobacco-drug diatribe sounds like a typical brain-damaged smoker and/or a proponent of the tobacco creeps (you know, those "people" who still grow, manufacture, distribute, sell or otherwise promote tobacco). On the other hand, we could always hope that the writer is actually on our side and is using reverse psychology to get the majority motivated to ban smoking in every place, indoors and out, as should have been done years ago! Smoke-free is the way to be. You're welcome.

  • Chris
    August 13, 2012 - 09:00

    Where's there's (tobacco) smoke, there's DEATH! Yes, the ILLEGAL tobacco drug (yup, still ILLEGAL to POISON PEOPLE, no matter how slowly you do it) KILLS 5,000,000 addicts and another 650,000 INNOCENT people around the world, EVERY YEAR! BAN ALL SMOKING, EVERYWHERE AND BAN THE ILLEGAL TOBACCO DRUG, NOW! PROSECUTE THE CRIMINAL TOBACCO PUSHERS and their "friends" (like Brain Jones), TOO!

  • Michael J. McFadden
    August 12, 2012 - 02:25

    Brian, am I guessing correctly that MUN is talking about banning smoking OUTdoors on their campus? Generally the Antismokers have moved far beyond the impossibility of filtering or exhaust-ventilating Magickal Tobakko Smoke from rooms and now concentrate on the great outdoors. Typically you'll see comments like "Why should I get lung cancer from walking by smokers at doorways?" as a justification for these bans. That sort of comment led me to do some figuring based upon the Antismoker "Gold Standard": the EPA Report. The EPA Report actually cheated to get its figures, since they couldn't get them if they included all the research studies or if they used the standard 95% confidence measure of scientific epidemiology, but even with that cheating, all they could find was a 19% increase in the base cancer rate over a 40 year lifetime exposure to secondary smoke for 40 hours a week in the smoky workplaces of the 1950s through 1970s. Given the low base rate of lung cancer in the nonsmoking population (about in every 200 to 250 nonsmokers) that translates to about 1 extra lung cancer for every 40,000 worker-years on the average. Once we adjust for the durations and intensity of outdoor exposure that would exist on a campus where you had to walk by doorway smokers ten times a day, every single day, it would take approximately TWENTY FIVE MILLION student-years to produce a single lung cancer from secondary smoke exposure. Of course if the EPA had been forced to obey normal scientific and statistical standards in its analysis the figure might be closer to one every 25 *Billion* years, but that's a different argument altogether. Brian, I'm sure you've heard of "perpetual grad students" but do you know any who plan to still be at MUN 25 million years from now? The ban is social engineering, behavior control, pure and simple operative conditioning. Treat the students like lab rats: make the undesirable behavior more difficult or painful and they'll learn not to do it. The only catch is that students are NOT rats, they shouldn't be TREATED like rats, and if they ARE treated that way they should rebel against it. Michael J. McFadden, Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

  • mag
    August 11, 2012 - 06:12

    The current antismoking crusade is much like previous crusades. It is a social-engineering, eradication crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique of fanatics operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization (the Godber Blueprint). This little, unelected group decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world. These fanatics were speaking of secondhand smoke “danger” years before the first study on SHS, together with advocating indoor and OUTDOOR smoking bans. Secondhand smoke “danger” is a concoction to advance the agenda. The bulk of what comes out of the Tobacco Control Industry is inflammatory lies as a means to an end. In a number of countries there are already bans on entire hospital grounds and university campuses, on beaches, and in parks that have nothing to do with protecting nonsmokers from SHS “danger”. Those who smoke are also being denied employment, housing, and medical treatment. It is a deranged, social-engineering, bigotry bandwagon. See the Godber Blueprint http://www.rampant-antismoking.com

  • mag
    August 11, 2012 - 06:08

    Thank you, Brian, for bringing some sensibility to a deteriorating circumstance. You would think that balanced perspective could be expected from universities. Unfortunately, it’s through universities that deranged bandwagons are allowed to flourish under the masquerade of “science and scholarship”. And it’s sad to see that the latest generations of students, having grown up on a diet of antismoking propaganda, now just don’t get it; they cannot reason through the nonsense. Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid history, much of it predating even the semblance of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, and bigotry. http://www.americanheritage.com/content/thank-you-not-smoking http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5339 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/pdf/bmj00571-0040.pdf Anti-tobacco/alcohol were rife in America early last century. These were pushed by the fanaticism of the Temperance and Eugenics Movements. It was the EM that was most influential, erroneously viewed as “scientific and scholarly”, and embraced/funded by the mega-wealthy and the “educated” class. Eugenics was taught at the most prestigious universities. One by one, individual states enacted sterilization laws, convinced that it was “great progress”. By the time of Prohibition, a number of states had already enacted (and rescinded) anti-tobacco laws and 22 states had enacted sterilization laws; 11 more would enact such laws in the decade following Prohibition, i.e., a “bandwagon” effect. There was an attempt through the 1920s to have a national anti-tobacco law enacted.

  • gene
    August 10, 2012 - 19:35

    Millions dead each year due to tobacco use, and this nonsense is what concerns Jones. Millions of families shattered due to tobacco use, and Jones wants nothing done whatsoever. An industry has subverted our very system of government, buying off legislators with arrant effontry and abandon, and this nonsense is what concerns Jones. Has he not lived? Not much, apparently; certainly not enough to see what this addiction, almost always begun in childhood, results in. He's lived enough to know how to bloviate viciously and pointlessly, but little else. 100 years ago, he'd have been getting on his immoral high horse about traffic lights robbing drivers of their FREEDOM! What swill from a self-important ignoramus.

  • Eli
    August 10, 2012 - 09:59

    I guess texting and yakkin' on a cellphone while driving are ok too? Come on. The Lord helps those who help themselves, then there are the others...

  • Rompster
    August 10, 2012 - 09:42

    Administrators are also shirking their real responsibilities when they enact these outdoor bans. One of those responsibilities includes the safety of the students. Students in residences or using the library at night who want to smoke may well end up on the periphery of the campus in the dark, where the real chances of something very unfortunate happening to them rise considerably.

  • Politically Inncorrect
    August 10, 2012 - 08:49

    Should we expect an alcohol ban any time soon?

  • Alum-Ninety one
    August 10, 2012 - 08:34

    Universities are no different than any other place. People have a need to exert power over others. Conform or be excluded. Who's going to enforce this foolishness - perhaps the near non-existent security. "Halt, papers".

  • Stumper
    August 10, 2012 - 07:30

    I live in a neighbourhood immediately adjacent to Memorial. I guess I can now expect my lawn and sidewalk to be littered by the cigarette butts of smokers who will be fleeing Memorial between classes and on breaks. Thanks MUN. By banning smoking, you haven't banned smokers, you've simply moved them off of your pristine grounds onto someone else's.

    • Bob
      August 10, 2012 - 10:24

      Maybe you and your neighbors should approach the school to discuss having it move to a remote location with no neighbors. Your property taxes are higher having so much land being used by a school that pays no property tax.