Smoke Free Campus: Another Smoke Screen?

It smells when it gets in your clothes and kills when it gets in your lungs.

Londoners walking past any King’s building, I’m sure, will have become very well-acquainted with its student crowds and suffocating smog. Smoke, and cigarettes, although having been banned from campus, are still a very big part of student habits and seem to be taking over the sidewalks of the Strand. To some, this is a social or unbreakable addiction, but to most it is a nuisance and a health hazard.

This is the reality of King’s Smoke Free Campus Policy. Much like skipping that 9 am that you’ll “definitely” catch up on later, it’s an idea that I can fully support in theory, but which falls apart in practice. By simply banning smoking on its campus, the College takes an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to the issue, but smoking is still very much in sight once you take a single step outside a university building.

Streets outside campus become crowded, as smokers can be heard clicking their lighters in unison like a bad jazz quartet. Litter too, the one thing London does not have a shortage of, is abundant in these areas. Perhaps the College could try a student satisfaction free campus next year? After all, we could do with more of it. 

I don’t yearn for a return to 1930s-style smoking etiquette; but neither can we snap our fingers and have the problem go away in a puff of smoke, and in order to devise a serious and solid attitude towards smoking, more progressive and measured solutions must be considered.

The College should probably stick by the current law, which prohibits smoking in ‘enclosed or partially enclosed areas’. Basically, anywhere with a roof. Within courtyards, King’s can exercise its own discretion on the matter. Outdoor areas within campus should have a small, out of the way, smoking area equipped with bins and perhaps information on how to quit, which would be to the benefit of both smoking and non-smoking students. At the very least, bins should be installed where students now congregate to smoke. However, a move towards helping students stop smoking, rather than just changing where they do it, is far more important.

The College’s present stance on smoking is neither thoughtful nor wise and the smoke-free campus policy should be retracted and rethought.

Yes, a smoke free campus is preferable to smoking anywhere. But the College should be searching for a better long-term solution to a very imminent and serious problem.


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