By C. Burns
Editor, the Gauntlet,
Re: “Smoking madder,” Aug. 5, 2004
Assuming that every part of Darcy Padula’s letter is true, the essential points of the editorial to which she or he responds remain.
Regardless of whatever statistic the anti-smoking side deploys this week (interesting that the percentage of smokers declines when smokers should join the majority, but increases when money or support are needed to ban smoking), a choice has been or will be made that adversely affects a minority group on campus without meaningfully consulting them. This is true whether or not the statistics quoted in the editorial are accurate.
The Gauntlet has probably consulted with more smokers about this issue in the last few weeks than the smoke-free sub-committee of glorified yes-men. Padula’s comparison of the sub-committee to the Communist Party is apt only if he or she means that both bodies ignore unfavourable information to their positions by keeping the opposition out of their deliberations.
Further, Padula’s apparent failure to comprehend that it is easier to make or discuss unpopular decisions without the opposition does not negate the cowardice of that type of decision-making. It disturbs me that an institution dedicated to teaching critical thought and collaborative decision-making should short-circuit student input.
Finally, Padula also misses the point, claiming “Here is a reasonable solution: Buy cigarettes when you can tell the difference between oncoming traffic and no oncoming traffic.” People will smoke during all hours of the day. Sending them across busy traffic to smoke is bad for the community which has to handle the air pollution and garbage. It’s bad for the drivers who have to avoid the extra smoker-pedestrian traffic. It’s bad for the students who lose productivity by having to leave campus to look after a medical condition (addiction). The anti-smoking crowd on campus has presented no solutions to address this safety issue, nor any way to help students who want to quit smoking.
I would encourage Mr. or Ms. Padula to understand and correctly represent both the pro- and anti-smoking ban arguments before continuing in this debate.