Smoking Task Force

Eli Shurberg

By August, 2016, Hampshire’s policy around cigarette smoke will be drastically different. As a member of the smoking policy task force for the 2015-2016 academic year, I’ve been privy to and involved in a number of conversations about what this policy might look like. One of the key concerns many students (including a few of us on the task force) have raised is that marginalized populations are more likely to be smokers and thus would feel the brunt of a full smoking ban on campus. Low-income people, mentally ill people, people of color, trans people, and queer people are more likely to become smokers in their lifetimes. It’s a deeply upsetting fact that populations that are already marked for institutional discrimination and potential violence are pushed towards cigarettes as a means of alleviating stress and coping, but it’s a coping mechanism all the same. I want to be clear in saying that smoking is not a healthy activity; there are countless studies documenting the numerous fatal and terminal illnesses smoking can cause, and waste generated from cigarettes is a global issue. On campus, the status quo with regards to smoking is less than ideal; people often smoke too close to dorms or smoke inside to the detriment of residents who, for a variety of (valid) reasons, don’t want to be around smoke of any kind. With that said, a campus-wide initiative that fully bans smoking without making room for students, faculty, and staff who do smoke has the potential to further exclude and push out marginalized populations at Hampshire. My hope is that a compromise can be made that respects the coping mechanisms and lived experiences of smokers and non-smokers alike.  

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