The potential for a smoking ban and other smoking restrictions on campus has been rumbling around in recent weeks. This is likely in response to a new state law that will ban smoking at public universities effective July 1, 2015.
Loyola is a private institution and, for the most part, can do as it pleases about smoking on its campuses. That’s not an issue here. As I see it, the issue is that Loyola is facing some serious hypocrisy and paternalism if it bans smoking on campus.
The university’s “Choice. Control. Character.” campaign is aimed at underage and binge drinking, both on and off campus. “Students and their guests are expected to follow all local, state, and federal laws, as well as all University policies pertaining to the … use, sale, and distribution of alcohol,” Loyola’s website says.
For those who think this is asking too much, don’t worry, there’s this: “However, students are young adults who have the freedom and responsibility to make their own decisions, and they often consume alcohol even when it conflicts with the law.”
What’s that? It sounds to me as if the school admits the obvious: Students are not children who need adult supervision. There it is in writing for all to see: “Students are young adults who have the freedom and responsibility to make their own decisions.”
With this in mind, why is the university even thinking about banning smoking on campus? For that matter, why even bother to restrict it? If students can make their own decisions regarding alcohol — which is more dangerous to yourself and to others than smoking is — why can’t they make their own decisions about smoking?
To my knowledge, smoking doesn’t contribute to sexual assault and violent crime like alcohol does. Smoking can kill you sooner, but so can overconsumption of alcohol (especially for those individuals who drink dangerously in one night).
I fail to understand why the university feels the need to act as a parental unit when it comes to smoking but can be laughably lax about alcohol. What does it say about Loyola’s standards when such blatant hypocrisy goes unchecked?
I’m not asking a rhetorical question. If anyone can offer a good response to why alcohol and smoking deserve two very different policies — and why paternalism is necessary for smoking but not alcohol — I am all ears.
Telling people not to smoke, but turning a blind eye to often illegal and dangerous alcohol consumption, is ludicrous. Just as your lungs may not appreciate smoking, your liver may not appreciate too much alcohol. But for Loyola, one gets a pass and the other is “unhealthy,” “dangerous” and even “deadly.” Why? Does anyone else see the hypocrisy, or is it just me?
Dominic Lynch is a contributing columnist. He can be contacted at email@example.com.