In response to a recent article (“UA debates possible campus smoking ban,” 2/15/2011), let me address three things the average student might be unaware of.

First: You should realize that the campus smoking-ban push is part of an orchestrated movement (Google “smoke-free campuses”) funded and backed by national organizations. Only 450 of the nation’s 6,000 campuses have such bans, but already you see the “bandwagon fallacy” card being played on almost every campus under the gun: “Don’t be left behind! Everyone else is doing it!” Check the funding — see who’s getting paid for their time or how materials costs are covered. Don’t be surprised if the money traces back to NicoGummyPatchy grants and taxes from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Second: If you want to push people off campus at night just on the basis of occasional annoyance, go right ahead. Just don’t try to pretend there are general health reasons in play. There are simply no scientific or medical studies showing any real harm from the levels/durations of smoke you’ll encounter outdoors.

Third: There’s no good reason outside of social engineering for Penn prohibiting a few comfortable, exhaust-vented spaces for smokers and their friends to relax, study or chat together indoors. But providing such arrangements counters the antismoking goal of discomforting, denormalizing and ultimately dehumanizing smokers.

-- MICHAEL MCFADDEN The author, a past Wharton graduate student, wrote Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains.

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