Under a hot California sun a cold war is brewing at Glendale College over smoking, where the combatants would like to see the other side obliterated once and for all!
On or around Sept. 10, a torrent of e-mails crisscrossed the GCC network demanding a smoke- free campus, and no sooner had the network cables a chance to cool that counter demands flooded the trenches of senders.
Both sides have strong opinions and some are more passionate than others. The arguments are similar to all pro and cons of tobacco use. After all, who wants to be sitting in a class and smell smoke pouring through the air-conditioning vents? Or, step over cigarette butts like bodies strewn across a battlefield?
The effects of tobacco use are well documented. Yes, it can cause illness. Yes, it is not the best of habits and those who do not smoke should have protection from those who choose to do so.
With the cities of Pasadena and Burbank banning smoking at most public places, it was not surprising that the city of Glendale followed suit and with a stroke of the pen, hundreds, perhaps thousands of smokers were forced to check their vile habit in public. Various establishments from bars and clubs to restaurants and coffee shops pointed to the possibility of a fall in profits.
In Glendale, storms brewed over ethnic sensitivities with the misplaced words of a city council member. Fortunately for all, no one was struck by lightning, and soon, without fanfare, Glendale joined the ranks of the non-smokers’ public opinion, all for good reason.
Cries of bad business and what about our rights to live the way we want fell by the wayside in the thunderous demands of non-smokers. After all, no one wants to pay for the health care costs of people who choose to squander public money on their vile habit. And, that is how things ended. Or has it? There is talk of Los Angeles opting for the non-smoking bandwagon to the chagrin of all smokers in Southern California, and now GCC.
The fact that high taxes are levied on cigarettes, and the product sold in a city, which chooses to ban the use of it within its boundaries, places a smoker between a rock and hard place. The smoker is no longer considered a member of the public with “rights.” Fortunately, there are still plenty of places in public that can be designated as a smoking zone, where smokers can smoke and the non-smokers need not congregate.
There is every reason that a non-smoker should not be subject to second hand smoke. There is also every reason for a smoker to be able to smoke.
What eludes non-smokers is the fact that smoking is an “addiction” to a smoker. The medical community has come to accept addiction as a disease, an illness. Just as the smell of smoke is sickening to a non-smoker, the lack of nicotine has side effects ranging from irritability to depression and suicide for a smoker.
There are smokers among the students, faculty and employees of GCC. To obliterate their rights as smokers with a complete ban of smoking on campus with no regard for the addictive effects of nicotine is no longer a democratic endeavor, but a simple dictatorship of the majority.
So, what is to be done at Glendale College? Well we could all worry about the smog that kills smokers and non-smokers alike faster than secondhand smoke, but if that is not possible for the moment, lets do away with the little red “No Smoking” signs that still do not work, and designate strategically placed smoking areas, with ample ashtrays and space, around the campus where smokers can smoke and the non-smokers need not venture, and enforce the rule.