Our Voice

As children, many of us always imagined being “cool,” like the big kids around the block. In order to fit in, some of us smoked candy cigarettes and sometimes went as far as Smarties. However, as adults – in the context of age – we are allowed to decide if the theory of a child is true or not. At 18, according to United States law, we are legally allowed to use all tobacco products. We can choose to smoke real cigarettes or other tobacco products, or we can choose to stick with our candy.

Recently, it has come to light that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the governing body for all Georgia universities and colleges, is considering a new policy that would ban all tobacco products from campuses across Georgia. If you remember, GC Communications sent out a 10-question survey asking about tobacco usage and for opinions on the potential ban.

The results were split pretty much down the middle for whether GC, as a campus, was in favor or not in favor of the ban.

And the question behind this split is: Should we really have the ban? Is this new rule even enforceable, or will it become like our “designated smoking shelters,” which no one pays attention to? The new policy would make using tobacco on campus a violation of the GC Honor Code as punishable by the Student Judicial Board.

This new policy rides on the same thing that makes GC’s current smoking ban not work: self-policing. The people of GC are expected to report violations when they see them occurring, and besides the fact that this just plain won’t work, as evidenced by the smoking ban (or the lack thereof), it begs the question of what kind of ethos this encourages.

Should we all be expected to run and tell on our peers when we see them taking a smoke break outside the LITC? And how do we prove that it even happened? Are we expected to surreptitiously photograph the smokers with our smartphones? Maybe we could even set it up to where we Snapchat them to the USG, but only if they promise not to screenshot them.

And what about students in on-campus housing? Can an 18-year-old not exercise their right to chew or dip in the privacy of their living space? Really? The undertones of infringement on personal liberties seem pretty obvious here.

We don’t want to be too quick to blow the whistle, but this ban seems to give a power to the USG that we, as a bastion of the First Amendment, don’t quite want to hand over. The logic of course being, if they can take away students’ rights to smoke, what’s next?

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