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Published February 10 2010

Forum editorial: Smoking ban just a suggestion

It’s been a while coming, but North Dakota State University has taken a small step to a smoke-free campus. President Richard Hanson signed a new smoking policy that was recommended to him by the University Senate. As of March 1, smoking will be prohibited on all university property, including outdoor areas of the main and downtown campuses.

We say “a small step” because a campuswide smoking ban that lacks effective enforcement is really not much of a ban at all. The new policy will be self-enforced. Campus police will not be involved with enforcing the policy. In practice, therefore, violators likely will be subjected to little more than disapproving glances or finger-wagging from students and faculty who support the ban.

College students are notoriously resistant to rules. College students who are smokers apparently are resistant to the science of smoking and the dangers they pose to others from secondhand smoke. It’s reasonable to ask: Why would they police themselves under a campus smoking ban? Why would they give a hoot about the health of others when their habit threatens their own health? Why would they take seriously a toothless campus policy that tries to restrict what they believe is their right?

The answer to all three questions is they will not.

NDSU administrators and faculty win praise for responding to the more than 60 percent of students who say they want a campus smoking ban. But to impose a ban without consequences for violations is an invitation for noncompliance.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum

management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.