Why you should be against the Georgia State smoking ban

James McDougald


By James McDougald | Columnist

No one likes secondhand smoke, I know. I’ll put that right up front. Perhaps someone close to you has even been lost or maimed due to cancer. I feel for you, I sincerely do. But it doesn’t change the fact that this proposed ban is a terrible, absurd idea. I mean we know how insulated Georgia State is from any major city and how its students don’t share its campus with literally thousands of other people. What I’m saying is, it would be impossible to enforce this sanction.

This is one of those unique plots meant only to provide a sentiment. Simply put, smoking is bad and Georgia State is against smoking.  How very thoughtful. I want to know is how would this plan be followed through. This is obviously a political maneuver to save the campus money. You see, useful things require money. On one hand you have empty threats and throwing away ashtrays requiring little money, while on the other is anything remotely useful like health services and awareness vouchers, which require money.

“But what about L.A.?” What about it? You see L.A., New York and Seattle can get away with this. They have values and convictions. New Yorkers for example knew the “soda ban” was coming and you know what they did? They voted for it. Each of these cities also force a calorie count to be included on fast food menus, Seattle even put a cap on how many chain restaurants can be opened in the city. America, especially in the South, is suffering from massive health issues. Diabetes, heart disease and lung cancer are all on the rise, and if Georgia State want to help that’s grand! But actually do something! Don’t force one group to shuffle off to save yourself the complaints of body shaming the other popular “at risk” group. Personally, I would rather sit that glassed off airport smoking room for three hours a day then step in gum. But they keep chomping away.

After tallying a highly informal poll of absolutely no one, I’ve concluded shunning an entire group of people offers no inclination to quit anything. Would this ban go into effect nothing would change. The street vendors by Piedmont Park will still sell you cigarettes, as will the Sidebar. And again, there is no possible way this ban could be enforced.  This is downtown Atlanta, a city that prides itself on its inability to take money from parking violations. Does Smoke Atlanta sound like a contradiction of intent to anyone else? Maybe the university has something else in mind. Perhaps they would prefer actual police to stop doing actual police work and focus on this foolish action. Who profits from this?

The only person who wins is the guy who says they’ve done away with smoking on campus. But you and I know better, they’re just going to move the smokers further to the fringes. Why don’t they try this gambit with the panhandlers? See how far that goes. Now, I’m not comparing a highly expensive vice to the destitute here; I’m just lumping all the undesirables together. Be pro-smoking, be the Surgeon General, deep inside you know this ban is senseless. If Georgia State goes forward with prohibition the only thing gained will be more butts in the gutters. Maybe I’m being cynical here, but I doubt even in the sincerity of the proposer. If this isn’t just a talking point, if they really are so blissfully optimistic as to think this would work, wow. I wonder what it’s like living in such a magical world. I mean no offense, because I honestly don’t think anyone with that sort of power is altruistic.