The new smoking policy means a healthier environment for all.
By Filipp Stoliarov
“This is how the Orwellian state begins!” screams the dedicated smoker, as UCT’s new smoking (or rather anti-smoking) policy is implemented. Events of this nature seem contemporary as many societies have taken the plunge. Smoking is harmful so why promote or facilitate an environment whereby smoking can occur? “Ah ha!” chime in the libertarians. It’s a matter of civil liberty. We are free citizens so why should smokers be prohibited further, when they are already under siege from every corner: paying sin tax and now they are being given tiny hovels where they can smoke in legally protected peace.
The debate then unfolds to universally condemn smoking for its fundamentally harmful nature as well as its polluting effects within the micro-environment of its users. The argument against smoking boils down to health, addiction and pollution. The ritualistic process is fundamentally linked with the nicotine intake. On top of the many stresses UCT students face, smoking essentially compounds all those stresses, despite the temporary relaxation achieved from the nicotine.
The value of UCT’s new policy is less to do with policing and restricting freedom and more with improving overall campus health. We all have a right to clean air and a healthy working and living environment. Unfortunately, even as a stern and vigilant libertarian, smoking is not compatible with a public space due to its many well-known risks from second-hand smoke alone. As our societies advance and adapt to the knowledge and challenges of the present, we must acknowledge that certain habits become more outdated and treated as luxuries rather than public rights or goods.
UCT’s policy is designed to improve the well-being of all students with focus on the links between stress management and psychoactive substance intake. We must recognise that promoting the ideal environment for people to holistically succeed means encouraging good health, and smoking is not compatible with that. It’s not a case of why can’t you smoke, but rather why should you?