Smoking bans should be enforced

Wednesday, January 7, 2009 | 10:00 a.m. CST

With the arrival of the New Year, many of us have made yet another resolution to make our butts smaller. MU is no exception. By 2014, the university hopes to ban smoking and tobacco on campus.

Now, MU is planning to do this in baby steps. On Jan. 20, an ordinance banning smoking within 20 feet of university buildings will go into effect. This means of course, dormitories, class buildings, anything associated with MU will now be smoke-free for at least a couple feet of walking distance. Or will it?

I’m not a smoker myself, but I notice it quite often around town. Back in December, my friends and I were out celebrating my graduation. We went to a new bar, Room 38, in The District. As we walked up to the entrance, there were about 10 people standing outside the door smoking. I walked through the smoke to get into the bar, only to find the smoke had come in and lingered by the entrance.

Now, Room 38 was a great place, ultra-chic. It had good times written all over it, and I am in no way putting down the establishment, because my friends and I enjoyed the place very much. But this trend of just barely walking outside the building to light up is rampant despite a city ordinance that went into effect more than two years ago. If no one is enforcing it in the city of Columbia, should we really expect anyone to enforce it at the university? Walk by any coffee shop and their outdoor seating is directly by their doorway. There is no 20-foot buffer keeping you from inhaling as you enter the business.

I am happy the university is taking steps to make the campus a healthier one and also maybe cut back on the litter cigarette butts create on our beautiful city. I see no difference between flicking a cigarette in the street and dumping your McDonald's coffee cup on the sidewalk. Litter is litter, and the world is not an ashtray. Billions of cigarettes are dropped on our streets, highways and sidewalks every day, according to

As someone who is allergic to smoke, walking outside to a cloud from someone waiting to finish their cigarette as they hold the door open to go inside is the equivalent of someone with a pet dander allergy having a cat rubbed against his or her face as they walk down the street. It doesn’t seem fair to suffer for another person’s addiction.

My good friend Stephen is a nonsmoker. But he brought up the point that smokers pay to go to school here as well, and maybe it isn’t right to restrict their habits while on campus. I can see the point. But smoking is something that affects more than just the person who chooses to smoke. I didn’t pay tuition to MU to have clouds of smoke impede on my fresh Midwestern air. Now, I am opposed to the limiting of anyone’s rights as an American. But voting is a right. Equal job opportunity is a right. Smoking is a choice, and being able to stop others from smoking around you should also be a choice the university and individuals should be able to make.

Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at

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Ayn Rand January 7, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.

Who's going to enforce it? The city can't -- or won't -- even enforce traffic violations such as speeding. And MU has budget problems, so I don't see them adding campus cops to enforce it.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley January 7, 2009 | 10:49 a.m.

I'll be the unpopular opinion here... Smoking bans should not even be in place to begin with.... They should be non-existent! They are as ridiculous as putting a band-aid on a gaping gunshot wound to the heart of a dead person!

As if we don't already have enough laws and ordinances on the books that can't be enforced.....

The smoking ban is another example of an exercise in futility, that give an appearance that "someone cares", but in reality that is just an appearance...


(Report Comment)
John Schultz January 7, 2009 | 10:56 a.m.

Seems like Tracy has a little catching up to do; the smoking ban prior to the recently-passed one already mandated a no-smoking zone around entrances. Of course, most smokers don't obey it, most business owners don't point it out to their customers, the police department is too busy to enforce it, and by the time the Health Department makes it out, those smokers are long-gone.

I found it pretty ironic when I stopped by the Health Department one afternoon a couple years back and saw a cigarette butt collector just a few steps from the front door.

(Report Comment)
James Patchett January 7, 2009 | 2:06 p.m.

Where the hell do you go downtown to get 20 feet from a doorway ?
The center of the street ??

(Report Comment)
John Schultz January 7, 2009 | 2:44 p.m.

James, just about. The Missourian had a story shortly after the smoking ban passed that featured a graphic of a few blocks of Ninth Street with the no-smoking area for each business outlined by a semi-circle. Almost the entire sidewalk on both sides of Ninth was covered, although one thing to keep in mind is that the exclusionary zone does not apply if one is walking.

(Report Comment)
Tom Laprade January 7, 2009 | 10:22 p.m.

Ban the bans

Educate not legislate.

You cannot legislate common sense

(Report Comment)

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