Reframing the smoking debate
For the two months that I’ve been at Columbia, the debate around smoking on campus has been almost ceaseless. The issue has been discussed time and again at the University Senate town halls as students have argued whether we should maintain the current 20-foot ban or enlarge this ban to cover all of campus. On one extreme we have chain-smokers, and on the other, health nuts—but most of us fall somewhere in the middle. The student body is majorly ambivalent: 50 percent of students say this isn’t even an issue for the University.
Personally, I don’t care what happens, and I smoke. But maybe we need to reframe the argument in order to get somewhere with this debate. We have some serious questions to pose in looking toward the future of this campus. For example, what sort of university do we want to be? Whenever I think about what sort of person I want to be, I ask myself: “What would Don Draper do?“
And Columbia should be asking itself the same question. So why are we even discussing a smoking ban? Let’s roll back the tide of these creeping restrictions on our basic liberties and live our lives as they were meant to be: under a thick, blue haze of cigarette smoke. Imagine the advantages of studying in Butler with a Marlboro dangling from your lip a la Humphrey Bogart! Consider taking one of your mid-terms with a pack of Lucky Strikes on your desk like the men of Sterling Cooper!
Ayn Rand always attached a Promethean significance to the act of smoking—and we all know how popular Ayn Rand is these days. This famous Objectivist and champion of the Right once theorized that attributing lung cancer to cigarette smoking was a merely socialist conspiracy. (Just ignore the fact that she underwent surgery for lung cancer and died shortly afterwards. As Reagan said, facts are stubborn things.)
Who is John Galt? We should instead be asking: Who is Philip Morris? So let us move forward, fellow Columbians! Go buy yourself a pack. You deserve it.
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