The smoking ban on campus was initiated at the start of semester. Instead of having designated smoking areas, UM students and staff looking for a quick drag must retreat to the sidewalks on Campo Sano or Ponce de Leon Blvd.
See also: New Fornicate Freely Campaign on Campus
However, since it is not illegal to smoke, UMPD cannot fine someone on campus for smoking. The smoking ban is a school policy and needs to be enforced by everyone on campus.
And a group of students that are not affiliated with any group or organization banded together to bring back the designated smoking areas and to revoke the ban. To most people’s surprise not all these students are smokers. In fact, Mason Schecter and Micah Nellessen that spearheaded the smoke-out this past Friday do not smoke themselves.
The pair created a Facebook event and shared it with their friends and urged their friends to share it with theirs. On Friday at 1:45 p.m. in the UC, Nellessen and Schecter placed the finishing touches on their posters before heading out to The Rock to proudly inhale the second hand smoke of their peers.
Over 50 people turned out. While most students were weary about the repercussions of smoking on campus, almost all signed the petition. Even some members of the staff.
Nellessen and Schecter argue that the ban is imposing on a student’s right to choose, insensitive to other cultures, and liters campus with burnt out butts. Besides, they claim that the policy isn’t even being enforced.
Standing on the sidelines were confused students and faculty. Most walked up to read the signs before distorting their face in disgust and walking away shaking their head.
Senior Sarah Quigley was talking with a friend by the rock on Friday during the smoke-out. She does not want the ban lifted.
“Smoking goes against everything our campus stands for especially when you consider UM’s focus on pre-health,” Quigley points out. “There is no point to smoke, do it in your own apartment, not here.”
A controversial issue has been the ban of electronic cigarettes. Since they emit water vapor and no second hand smoke, many students feel the university is undermining a student’s decision about his or her health. The legal age to smoke is 18.
“This is really about our right to choose,” Nellessen explains.
The Miami Hurricane posted a photo of the students protesting the ban as its cover photo on Facebook. Almost instantly there was a backlash of comments against smoking on the post. This is a screen grab taken a few hours after the photo was posted:
And yet students protesting are not dissuaded. They vouch to continue protesting every Friday until someone is willing to listen to them. But after an hour of protesting in the middle of campus without any interference from campus asking the smokers to put out their cigarettes, there might not be a point: no one polices the policy anyways.
Note: I spoke to Gilbert Arias Vice President of Student Affairs about the smoking ban last month in my article Smoking Tobacco on Campus Is Not Illegal, Just Against School Policy. I wrote a story Students reignite smoking policy discussion for The Miami Hurricane on the smoke-out which was published Monday October 28.