MATT HAMPTON | Reporter
Across America, many universities allow alcohol on campus, and here at Lindenwood, interest has been heating up about doing the same. But at the same time, another common policy exists at Lindenwood with much less disapproval: the smoking ban.
In 2016, a bill passed by Student Government banned cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other similar products, initially restricting them to certain areas on campus before prohibiting them entirely last semester.
Everyone has heard the reasons Lindenwood students want a wet campus, but if drinking should become allowed, then it raises the question: why not smoking?
Supporters of ending the booze ban argue that those who can legally drink off campus should be free to do so on campus. In St. Charles County, it is legal to buy cigarettes at the age of 18. So unlike with drinking, underage smoking at college would not be an issue because most students are of age.
It is often said that campus drinking will exist despite policies prohibiting it. It is also evident that the tobacco ban has not stopped smoking on campus either.
Wet campus advocates sometimes mention that countries that many international students come from have much more liberal liquor laws. It is also true that the custom of smoking is more common in other countries such as Japan and Spain than in the U.S.
I agree that students should be free to drink at Lindenwood, because it will make drinking safer for students. However, repealing the smoking prohibition is even more of a no-brainer.
A common argument for a tobacco-free campus is that smoking, the leading cause of death in the U.S., should be prevented to protect the health of smokers. Even if it is right to restrict tobacco for smokers’ own good, smoking is already becoming increasingly unfashionable without the need for any ban.
But many oppose smoking not only because it damages the smoker’s health, but because it also harms those around them. While this is true, the negative externalities of alcohol cannot be ignored either and, I would argue, are even more serious than smoking.
While cigarettes cause health problems mostly for their users themselves, college drunkenness also leads to safety problems and crime. As unhealthy as smoking is, the influence of nicotine does not cause violence or delinquency.
Becoming a wet campus will create more heavy drinkers and bring the problems that come with it.
Students on a wet campus may be more likely to report sexual assault or other issues at a party. On the other hand, easier access to liquor could cause more incidents, as alcohol is often a factor in sexual assault.
Also, other problems may be created by a wet campus.
Depending on how it is handled, allowing alcohol could lead to more intrusive residential policies to enforce the drinking age. Ironically, for underage residents who hope becoming a wet campus will let them drink more easily, it could do the opposite.
Alcohol and tobacco are different drugs, and there should be different policies when they are allowed on campus. Maybe smoking should only be permitted in dorms with the consent of the smoker’s roommate, if we want to limit smoking in public.
But many students view smoking as gross and old-fashioned, yet alcohol as just a way to have fun on the weekend (or weekdays). This unjustified double standard is the reason that the same people who so strongly want alcohol to be permitted think a tobacco-free campus is a good thing.