Respect for rights trumps governing people’s health

Cartoon by: Riley Webber

Cartoon by: Riley Webber


Some things attract little attention or comment. However, on the subject of smoking, everyone seems to have an opinion to voice.

For the past two weeks The Torch has been asking people on campus for their comments about the potential removal or relocation of the smoking huts in the parking lots. Responses poured forth and were varied in both content and emotional intensity.

When this matter was raised at the Board of Education meeting last July, central to the issue was hypocrisy; the signs stating that Lane is a tobacco free campus are untrue if we have smoking huts.

Clearly identifying a problem is essential to finding the best solution. In this case, if hypocrisy is the problem, there are two possible solutions: remove the huts or change the signs. If the problem is about risks to people’s health, then the solution would be to remove the huts.

For that matter, we might as well get rid of the junk food from the cafeteria and vending machines. Let’s face it; it would be hypocritical to get rid of the huts on the basis of protecting people’s health and keep selling junk food on campus.

The Torch sees only one clear problem, and the solution wouldn’t deplete the college’s already stretched budget. The problem is that smokers new to the college don’t know that the smoking huts even exist. So they smoke out in the open in the parking lots and are told by Public Safety to go to a smoking hut.The solution? Change the signs.

They should read: Lane Community College respects the rights of smokers and nonsmokers alike. For the convenience of smokers, huts for that purpose are located in four locations in parking lots A, B, C and D. Non-smokers are advised to park away from the huts to avoid second-hand smoke.

In a country burdened with rules and regulations piled on top of one another, freedom of choice and human rights are more important than ever before. Sure, smoking is harmful. But making stupid choices, as one board member commented, is a person’s right.

We are blessed at Lane to have an administration that is committed to including the entire campus community in projects, committees and decision-making. Taking advantage of that, by voicing our opinions, actually does affect the outcome.

Health problems stemming from smoking are the responsibility of the individual. If the college wishes to help people who are trying to quit, smoking cessation classes would provide a valuable service, as one respondent to our survey commented.

Let’s respect the rights of everyone, treat people like adults and leave the smoking huts right where they are. If you want your opinion to count in this decision please write to us at The Torch.

For the past two weeks, The Torch has approached people on campus to get their responses to the Board of Education July 9 discission regarding moving the smoking huts to the perimeter of campus or removing them altogether.

Here are some of their responses:

“In an ideal world that would be great, but this is not an ideal world. People smoke. In an ideal world they wouldn’t. This is not junior high school. We are adults and we make adult choices.”

Elizabeth Wilson
General Business student

“I think that’s ridiculous because smoking has been around forever. The huts are acceptable because it’s not that close to the school. It give both sides space.”

Lon Turner
Second year Political Science Pre-Law student

“If they get rid of the smoking huts, people are going to smoke wherever they please. There would be cigarette buts everywhere. It would create more of a problem.”

Jake Bisterfelt
Second year Liberal Studies student

“If they move them way out there, we won’t make it to class on time.”

Brian Holden
First year Drug and Alcohol Counseling student

“I think it’s a great idea, although as a previous smoker I know it would be nice to have somewhere to go.”

“It’s ludicrous that we advertise as a smoke free campus, when we’re really not.”

“I kind of feel bad for people who do smoke, it’s a hard situation because you don’t really have anywhere to go.”

Jan Nyleen
Health Clinic Employee – 12 years

“Take it off campus completely and have the art department build a big ashtray in the parking lot that looks like a lung after you smoke a lot.”

Cheryl Lemmon
Dance Instructor – 20+ years

“ I think that all opportunities to smoke should be on personally owned property because I’d like to see people quit, and we’ve got ways of helping them.”

Fran Nearing
Faculty Nursing

“It would be fine with me (if they removed them) because I’ve got asthma after smoking for 30 years. I’m sure it wouldn’t be convenient for those who smoke. It would probably encourage people to smoke in their cars.”

Ket Frazier
Computer Science student