Keep the law out of students’ lifestyle

By Suanna Gutierrez |Staff Writer|

By attending a state-run campus we silently agree to the behavioral expectations set out by the government running our institutions.

However, I feel that in no way did we ever agree to an institution deciding what is or isn’t an acceptable lifestyle choice.

Peoples’ choice to smoke isn’t warmly embraced by the greater populous of society as it is, and now in addition to the widely expressed discouragement of their lifestyle choice, smokers on campuses are  punishable by California state law.

Assembly Bill (A.B.) No. 795, a law allowing the active enforcement of smoking laws on California public post-secondary campuses has been passed by Governor Jerry Brown.

This bill is an elaboration of the law previously in place, making violators of specified smoking policies punishable by citation and fines of up to $100.

I understand, as we all should, that the government on a state or federal level has been developed and put in place to protect the greater good of society.

The perspective that cigarette smoke may provide a threat to the safety of society’s health is one that while can be supported, I strongly disagree that we should use that as an excuse to limit the ability and free will to smoke.

Carlos Carrio, Health Educator and Wellness Coordinator at CSUSB, says he supports the passing of A.B. 795.

“Cigarette smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States and there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure,” Carrio said.

“The passage of A.B. 795 is an important step forward by allowing California’s fine public colleges the opportunity to protect the health of students, faculty and campus visitors.”

Society is made up of individuals that have the right to decide their lifestyles for themselves. The protection of those rights is just as important as societies’ health.

I feel that to some extent, since this bill was never placed on a ballot for the effected campuses to support or disagree with, smokers among the student body and faculty alike are being discriminated against.

In addition, if the government can pass laws like A.B. 795, in order to help protect the health of its population, then it shouldn’t be able to financially benefit from tax profits made off of tobacco products that it attempts to “protect” its people from.

The schools affected by A.B. 795 are not receiving financial benefits from tobacco products. However, with their newly granted ability to fine students up to $100 apiece, money definitely seems to be an attractive prospect of this bill.

Student and faculty smokers are not smoking to cause conflict or harm to any person on the CSUSB campus. Their choice to smoke cigarettes doesn’t make their individual liberties any less important or less valid than any non-smoker.

Most smokers on the CSUSB campus respectfully comply and smoke within the designated smoking areas. Smokers don’t need a law hanging over their heads telling them where and when they can smoke, and they certainly do not deserve to be fined or punished because of their personal choices in their health.