This is partly in response to the STRIKE agenda and partly just because I'm annoyed at my rights being trampled on. First, let me say that in my opinion excessive tobacco smoking is indeed bad for you, kids should be discouraged from smoking, smoking is addictive, I plan to quit in the next year or so (15 years is almost enough) and that no one should smoke indoors where kids might be harmed by secondhand smoke, so I agree with a lot of what STRIKE is doing. Though I think that the effects of secondhand smoke have been blown way out of proportion, there is still a possible risk to others and I understand why people believe that I shouldn't be allowed to smoke in classrooms and most public buildings. On the other hand, there is no justification whatsoever to make UF smoke-free, thereby banning OUTDOOR tobacco smoking by adults.
One justification that I've heard used for this sort of fascism is that I should be protected from myself. Many things are harmful in excess (sunlight, fatty meat, vitamin A, fat in general, salt, food, water, etc. ), but as adults, we have to make choices about whether and to what extent we indulge in these things. I don't see much public outcry to remove the fast food joints from campus where for a few dollars students can purchase more fat and salt in one meal than is recommended as healthy for a whole day. I don't remember hearing about a possible ban on shorts and t-shirts because they could lead to skin cancer. So why the heck should I not be allowed to smoke outdoors in some places already and possibly anywhere in the future? (In case you didn't know it, there is at least one outdoor area between the Entomology/Nematology buildings where smokers' rights have already been taken away.)
Well, another response is the secondhand smoke. If you actually believe that a couple whiffs of cigarette smoke OUTDOORS between classes is ever going to harm anyone, then I've got a bridge and some sea monkeys for you to buy, as well as the addresses for some cults and the Flat Earth Society for you to join. The concentration of cigarette smoke and the duration of exposure from walking by a smoker outdoors are darn near infinitesimal. The secondhand smoke theory applied to outdoor smoking is utterly ridiculous.
The only other justification I can think of is the smell. I remember not liking the smell of cigarettes before I started smoking. My response to this is "So what?" There are an incredible number of people on campus who reek. Some women find it necessary to take a bath in perfume and/or powder themselves with a bottle a day before they come to class. The toxic pseudo-flowery miasma that follows them makes me gag. Some guys seem to think that if a little cologne or aftershave is good, then the whole bottle must be better. Again, I retch. This is not to mention coffee breath, b.o., garlic breath, general halitosis, etc. Should there be a rule against perfume, cologne, powder, garlic-eating, or what-have-you just because someone's nose might be offended? Of course not. There shouldn't be one against outdoor smoking with this ludicrous justification either.
As long as cigarettes are legal for adults to buy and smoke, there is no justification to ban outdoor smoking anywhere other than the pure joy some sadist might get in taking away a source of enjoyment for others. If I want to eat burgers, wear t-shirts, or smoke cigarettes outdoors, I should be able to. If you want to wear perfume or cologne, you ought to be able to. Adults in the US are allowed to make personal choices. Let me choose mine and I'll let you choose yours. If you don't, I may have to resort to chewing tobacco and spitting on your shoes.
One parting shot: If you think about it logically, smoking may be better for your lungs than exercise. Activities that are bad for you usually hurt. When I run, my lungs hurt. When I smoke, they don't. Obviously this means that smoking is better for my lungs than exercise. : )
"The Alligator", UF's school newspaper, vol. 94, no. 89, 30 Jan 2001.