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EDITORIAL BOARD: Smoke 'em while you can

The Daily Mississippian editorial board consists of Emily Roland, editor-in-chief, Houston Brock, city news editor, Megan Smith, campus news editor, Kristen Stephens, lifestyles editor, Matt Sigler, sports editor, Phil McCausland, opinion editor/copy chief, Cain Madden, photography editor, and Elizabeth Beaver, design editor.

Smokers should start chewing tobacco. Yesterday, June 27, the Smoke-Free Campus Policy Implementation Committee finalized and approved the “Smoke-Free Campus Policy,” which will prohibit smoking at all locations of the University of Mississippi Oxford Campus with no exceptions.
 
The vote was made because of the possible health effects of second-hand smoke. The essential idea is, as one committee member put it, “not in my backyard.” But the question is, whose “backyard” is it?
 
This campus belongs to the people who live and work on it. Some of these people are smokers and have a stake in the “yard.” To not give a smoking area to those members of the Ole Miss community that smoke is an infringement of their rights. Students, faculty and staff are adults and thus are lawfully allowed to decide whether or not to smoke. 
 
Though smokers are in the minority, their rights should be protected, but by disregarding this population of the University of Mississippi, this committee has shown that they are not representing everyone’s interests. Members of the committee laughed as they described smokers as being “edgy” over the passage of the policy showing their disconnection with the smoking population.
 
What was the problem with the current policy? Currently, smokers have smoking areas available and non-smokers have the ability to avoid these areas.
 
This policy was a more harmonious answer. The only problem with the original policy was that it was not enforced well enough and the smoking areas were not well marked, but these are easy fixes. And this new policy promises to be even more difficult to enforce for the University Police Department.
 
UPD representatives admitted that during gamedays this policy would not be a priority, although it was suggested that members of the Ole Miss community should call UPD when smokers are sighted. Encouraging members of the community to inform the police of possible smokers would only serve to alienate smokers more.
 
It also does not seem that smokers were fully consulted. One member of the committee, Leslie Banahan, met with a group of smokers, but the rest of the committee did not seem to consult smokers who were members of the student body, faculty or staff. How can a decision be made without those people who it affects?
 
It was also troubling to see that at this final meeting, no student member of the Associated Student Body was present, though a few student members left notes on their thoughts.
 
The decision, however, was ultimately left to faculty and staff members. Students are the largest member of the campus population, and the fact that their elected voices were not there for the final vote is disconcerting.
 
This being said, we do support the committee’s push to have more opportunities that smokers can pursue if they want to quit smoking. This is a noble effort; smoking cessation programs would be a great addition and would show that the university cares about its students, faculty and staff.
 
There is a very big difference, however, between caring and parenting, and as this community is largely made of adults, it is not the university’s role to parent them.
 
So to all the smokers out there: “Smoke while you got ‘em.”