Last Friday’s News’ View, “Kill the Smoking Ban” (Jan. 21), was an unfortunate response to the news of a smoke-free campus proposal. The initiative is a welcome one (evident by the News’ own poll) and a sensible way to protect Yalies’ very lives.
The assertion that students “have a legal right to buy and consume tobacco products” fabricates a right that simply does not exist. Adults can legally consume tobacco products, but the suggestion that tobacco use is somehow a guaranteed right — or a right at all — is false and unfounded. Nor are “smokers” a legal category against whom the ban presents an injustice; they are people who engage in behavior susceptible to rules like any other.
The idea that the University cannot limit legal activity is similarly preposterous. Pages in the student handbook are dedicated to regulating student activity deemed legal by the government. The concern with enforceability, too, is outrageous. Clearly a student caught smoking would not be “arrested” as the News presupposes, but would be treated reasonably like anyone who commits an infraction of University policy in public. The fact that no rule can be 100 percent enforced is no reason not to enact it. That 466 schools nationwide have gone smoke-free demonstrates the choice is more than practical.
Yale owes its students a safe place to live as much as it owes its employees a safe working environment — all much more than it owes allegiance to a plainly dangerous legal fiction.
The writer is a sophomore in Saybrook College.