This semester, the Georgia University Board of Regents decided that the need for securing the lung health of all Georgia public university students should trump their right to the liberty of consuming tobacco products, should they produce smoke or not.
Readers will already assume that I condemn this decision, and I do, vehemently. Smoking has already been marginalized by society, even on campuses. Smoking is banned in residence halls, in restaurants, in bars.
The tobacco (and nicotine) industries are looked upon with mistrust, distaste, and have been fought against on all legal and political fronts.
Yet they survive. Why? Perhaps it’s the addiction that their products intentionally produce.
For myself, it is the opportunity to tear myself away from the screens that consume all of our lives and enjoy the fresh air and the curling waves pipe and cigar tobacco produce whilst pondering the world’s political and cultural realities, our spiritual place in the universe, and the creeping autocratic tendencies of state and local governments as they take liberty after liberty from us in a misguided attempt to make us safe from our poor, yet autonomous life decisions.
It is at this point I plead the student government organizations to petition the Board of Regents for a repeal of this autocratic ruling.
I plead the police officers that effectively deter malicious outsiders from wreaking havoc upon our campus to refuse to enforce this tyrannical ruling.
I plead with my fellow students to continue to burn the sacred leaf that America’s natives and conquerors prized so highly, despite the potential consequences to your wallet.
To those of you who do not like the smell of smoke, I understand. Cigarette smoke is distasteful to my sense of smell, yet who am I to force more expensive cigars or pipes upon my fellow smokers?
I find the wearing of flip-flops by men in public forums to be shameful and abhorrent, yet who am I to force sandals or foot-enveloping shoes upon the masses?
I find nearly every pop song produced after 2005 to be obnoxious, yet who am I to ban loud and terrible music from the parties and loud stereos that plague our campus?
Just because you dislike the smell of smoke does not give you the right to ban it.
You are participating in an evil that we fought devastating wars to eradicate. You have become like the Nazis, the Soviets, and the other evil autocratic forces that have forced their trivial preferences upon the masses.
But it is not too late. You can realize the fault of your ways, whether borne of apathy or misplaced morality.
I will gladly welcome you back into the bastion of freedom and liberty should you choose to defy this egregious ruling and fight with all your intellectual and social power to ensure a repeal.
So I call upon you, my culture warriors. Tear down the “Georgia Tech is a Smoke-Free Campus” signs that bastardize the use of the word free in support of oppression.
Vandalize the Department of Public Health propaganda posters that show happy morons giving thumbs up over a Tobacco Quit Line.
If you are friendly with Georgia Tech Police officers, persuade them to respect your freedoms, if you are friendly with PLs or RAs, or are one yourself, encourage them to turn a blind eye to innocents exercising their God-given liberties.
Resist in what little ways you can, for if you do not, next time you see a poster that states “Breathe Easy, Georgia Tech is Now a Smoke Free Campus,” you will know that you may never breathe easily again, because Big Sister is breathing down your neck.