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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

U.D. explores total on-campus smoking ban while opposite psychology is on display elsewhere

You might have picked up the story earlier this week that the University of Delaware is exploring the possibility of banning all use of tobacco products on campus.

Even outdoor smoking areas would be eliminated.

And the catalyst for this proposed campus-wide ban is a group of undergraduate students. The U.D. administration says it's willing to consider such a ban, but it would be rather unusual for the student body to spearhead such an initiative.

Wow, how things have changed over four decades! In the late 1960's and 1970's, some U.S. high schools actually created smoking areas for students. The goal was to get smoking out of the restrooms so non-smokers could use smokefree restrooms. You didn't hear about "second-hand smoke" very much in those days, but it was disquieting to have to wander through smoke to find a urinal or toilet.

(At the time, I conducted an investigation for my high school newspaper: Did the creation of a student smoking area actually eliminate smoking in the restrooms? Methodology: I visited several high schools, with and without smoking areas, counting cigarette butts in the restrooms and/or other evidence of smoking. I enlisted the assistance of women to similarly analyze the girls' restrooms. Yes, the correlation was obvious. Creation of a student smoking area made the restrooms virtually tobacco free. But in those days, one could often sense smoke wafting from the faculty lounges!)

But the tobacco issue also perfectly illustrates how the terms "conservative" and "liberal" can flip over time. In those days, "conservative" school administrations resisted the pressure to create smoking areas, lest they be seen as legitimizing student smoking. The "liberal" administrations were the ones experimenting with smoking zones. Now, opposition to tobacco smoking bans usually comes from the right, while those seeking expansion of tobacco smoking bans tend to lean left. Marijuana runs in the opposite direction on the right--left continuum.

But tobacco use may perfectly illustrate a class divide in this country. Even as U.D. students and administrators may be moving to banish tobacco, one sees young adults - who one could loosely describe as "blue collar" from appearance - picking up smokes at convenience stores with abandon.

When visiting a Wawa a couple of days ago - after observing several customers purchasing their cigarettes - and taking advantage of no one waiting behind me - I asked the young female clerk if she was surprised so many customers pick up cigarettes. She confessed she was a smoker herself. Furthermore, most of her friends were smokers. She didn't consider it odd at all. (I recall her earlier saying that she had earned her G.E.D.)

Two different worlds. The rarefied university campus enviornment vs. this much different environment. At a state level (as evidenced by the recent Gallup well-being rankings of the states), Delaware vs. Vermont.

Posted at 8:04am on March 13, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

EarlGrey
Thu, Mar 13, 2014 9:49am
But tobacco use may perfectly illustrate a class divide in this country. Even as U.D. students and administrators may be moving to banish tobacco, one sees young adults - who one could loosely describe as "blue collar" from appearance - picking up smokes at convenience stores with abandon.

Class divide or hypocrisy?
Smoking tobacco on campus (or anywhere) = bad
Smoking pot on campus = cool/hip/rad/presidential

Drunk homeless guy on campus (or anywhere) = bad
Drunken college kids on campus = part of college experience and perfectly fine

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Mar 13, 2014 10:13am
EarlGrey: Well said.

One thing I've noticed is that it appears, purely anecdotal, that more young women smoke than young men. Also, women seem to be more into drinking, happy hours, partying, etc., than previous generations. Many adult women today are career folks, no marriage, no children, have even become CEO's, etc, so some women have broken through the glass ceiling, granted not all or even most, but definitely some. It appears that, in many ways, many women have become "men" in their lifestyles, or picking up many of the bad habits that were usually found in men rather than women.

It will be interesting to see if the death spread gap [women generally live longer than men - go visit a nursing home if you don't believe me] will close, and women will start living shorter lives as a result of the added stress to their bodies of being career people, smoking, drinking heavily, multiple sex partners, etc., etc.

kavips
Sun, Mar 16, 2014 4:50pm
It is very ironic, that the U.D. is considering banning smoking while putting in a 258-Megawatt smokestack with the toxic equivalence to inhaling 26 million cigarettes each day.

The data center is far more deadly than one or two cigarettes.


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