The Land of the Smoke-Free

Emmanuel Gonzalez, Managing Editor

Recently, legislation known as the SB 2202 bill has been pushed to get smoking prohibited at all state-funded institutions of higher learning, though eliminating the use of tobacco products will also be eliminating liberties.

Anti-smoking policies such as these have had a long-time coming. Ever since the 1964 Surgeon General report, which linked cigarettes to cancer, the United States has had an ongoing culture shift into anti-smoking.

Smoking cigarettes has now become a stigma in the United States, one that goes so far as to have ad campaigns detailing graphic images of what a smoker would do for cigarettes. One particular running commercial at the time has an individual ripping out a tooth to pay for his cigarettes.

An NEIU student has a tobacco-inspired learning moment by Emmanuel Gonzalez
NEIU student has a tobacco-inspired learning moment.

Smokers are now treated with a certain type of disgust; dating websites will even provide a filter to weed out anyone who is a smoker.

Albeit an unhealthy lifestyle, a lifestyle is what it truly comes down to. Smokers are human beings and should be treated with the respect that any other human being making unhealthy decisions should.

Anti-smoking campaigns tend to criminalize the smoker instead of the big tobacco companies, which are the real problem. The string of personal attacks that have been made on smokers continues the idea that there is something wrong with the smokers themselves.

The SB 2202 bill makes an exception for anyone smoking that is associated “with a native recognized religious ceremony, ritual or activity by American Indians that is in accordance with the federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Sections 1996 and 1996a of Title 42 of the United States Code.”

Isn’t every cigarette a ritual? When out there, savoring the bold flavor of tobacco, looking out unto the world, buried under the reflection of the smoke, cigarette consumers are enjoying the moment of peace and unraveling thoughts that could have otherwise been lost.

Some of the best progressive thinkers were smokers. According to “Albert Einstein in the World Wide Web,” a database for everything Einstein, he and his tobacco pipe were inseparable. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. president and a leader in social and economic issues, was also a smoker. George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, Albert Camus, and Kurt Vonnegut were all smokers, and they all got the job done.

Students are being stripped from their rights to smoke when some of the best writers have been smokers, and who knows where they would be if they didn’t have that daily ritual of tobacco enrichment?