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ISSUE 116 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/1/2002

Smoking community put out by policy: Others’ quality of life rules superior to smokers’ rights in do

By Byron Vierk
Staff Writer


Friday, November 1, 2002

St. Olaf is full of communities. It is a community of faith, a community of higher learning and a community of individuals. Various organizations and groups are each involved in separate communities. In the same way, students who smoke can also be labeled as having their own. Smoking is an individual choice available to St. Olaf students. Every student at St. Olaf can legally smoke, provided they are above the age of 18, but new smoke-free regulations have some smokers feeling a bit hot under the collar. The recently established smoke-free policy at St. Olaf clearly prohibits smoking in students rooms and within ten feet of buildings, including residence halls. For many students on the Hill, such a regulation is long due. However, to many people who chose to smoke, the regulations are simply unfair. The changes in the smoking policy came after many complaints about smoky halls and a after a small fire, caused by a cigarette, started in a room. Before this academic school year, students could smoke in their rooms depending upon approval of a roommate and neighbors. Across the Cannon River, Carleton College abides by regulations similar to St. Olafs former rules. According to www.carleton.edu, smoking is allowed in students' rooms when consent (written, if necessary) is given by each roommate. Roommates maintain their rights at all times to withdraw permission to smoke in the room. Should smoking become problematic, smoking privileges may be revoked if no reasonable compromise can be reached in consultation with RAs and/or other members of the Residential Life staff. Unfortunately for smokers at St. Olaf, roommate and neighbor approval was not always granted and the complaints piled up over the years. While it is technically the right of the smoker to smoke in the rooms, it is not the right of one student to interfere with anothers quality of life. Smoking became a disturbance and a detriment to some students lives, so the regulations had to change. David Ristuben 05 echoes the discontent of nonsmokers. Smoking should not be allowed in rooms. If you get tired of going outside to smoke, maybe its time to quit, he said. Smokers disagree, contending that the change in smoking regulations is a direct attack on their choice to smoke. People who smoke are just like people who dont, except they smoke, said David Valento 04. Valento continued, The one thing I truly hate about the nonsmoker is the fact that some feel the need to point out the bad effects of smoking. It is as if smokers are ignorant to the health risks smoking puts them under, when in fact, the smoker probably knows much more about them. Who knows more, the user or the observer Other smokers tend to agree with Valentos views, although most are willing to take the change in stride. Cold weather and leave the residence hall make smoking more of an inconvenience. But how effective are the new regulations? While confining smoking to rooms is a difficult task, enforcing the minimum distance regulation seems impossible. Anybody that I have seen smoking outside is not standing 10 feet away  they are standing right next to the door blowing smoke in my face as I walk in, Ristuben said. The true test of the new smoking regulations will come this winter, as cold temperatures will heavily test the effectiveness of both the indoor and outdoor smoking regulations. While smoking in the rooms is unacceptable to the administration of the college, students voice a neutral opinion on those who do choose to smoke. As long as smokers arent smoking in my room and they arent bothering me, I dont mind if someone decides to smoke, said Chuck Manning 05. While smoking is something that many students do not feel belongs in the dorms, smokers themselves are not seen as troublemakers or second-class citizens. I think the majority of people on campus do not like smoking, which is fine with me, Valento said. Most wont dislike or like someone based upon that. Restricting smoking has been a problem for businesses and restaurants for quite some time, and it seems inevitable that this battle would extend to all arenas of public life, including colleges. On the Hill, we are a community of faith, a community of higher learning, and also a community of respect for others. The new smoking restriction does not force the smoker to quit, simply to respect the rules and regulations of the school they have chosen to attend. This is something that can make every nonsmoker breathe a little easier.





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