We, the Gustavus Philosophers’ Guild, in response to the recent publicity and advocacy for the Gustavus Tobacco Free Initiative, put forth a statement humbly asking those who support the initiative to reconsider.
Before any arguments are given against making GAC tobacco free, we would like to state that tobacco is a dangerous and potentially lethal substance, and raising awareness about its health effects is an honorable activity that we would love to see more of on campus.
However, this does not justify campus regulators violating the personal autonomy of the student body. As adults we have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies, so long as we do not put others at risk for physical or emotional harm.
With indoor smoking already prohibited on campus, a decision we endorse, the risk for secondhand smoke has been all but entirely eliminated. Thus, the risk from smoking on campus is limited to the smokers themselves; a risk these individuals, as consenting adults, actively submit to.
For those who assert that it is in the best interest of the college to stymie this risk behavior, even when it is at the expense of individual liberties, we would like those making these assertions to realize the hypocrisy of their views.
To illustrate this point let us think of caffeine consumption on campus. Caffeine is a highly addictive substance that, at high doses, dramatically increases the consumer’s risk of heart disease. Yet no one questions a person’s decision to enjoy his/her morning cup of coffee or tea. Just as someone’s potential caffeine addiction is the responsibility of the caffeine consumer, a person’s addiction to nicotine is his/her own responsibility.
Banning tobacco use will do nothing to change this and will come at the expense of our students’ rights as individuals.
– The Gustavus Philosopher’s Guild