OP-EDS

  /  

April 14, 2006

Butt Out

Regardless of what one thinks of the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act, soon to be signed into law, a recent amendment to the act is troubling. The amendment would ban smoking in private and public dorms across Illinois, thus superseding the University’s current policy and severely threatening our rights in housing.

State Representative John Fritchey defends the bill on grounds of choice, citing the common policy requiring first-year students to reside in dormitories. If those dormitories allow smoking, Fritchey argues, students are involuntarily subject to a “hazardous environment.”

But if this is the only case that justifies the Act, then why not make the law specific to such an instance? Many universities—like the U of C—circumvent this concern. Housing here provides non-smoking space for those who wish to be in a non-smoking environment. The result is that no one is forced to deal with second-hand smoke. So long as this is true, Illinois has no justification to hamper the activity of college-age smokers.

Certainly concerns over the health effects of smoking are more than legitimate, but they are not relevant to this argument. If Blagojevich signs this into law, Illinois will have effectively prohibited on private property what is otherwise a legal activity for adults in any other private residence. You don’t have to be a libertarian to see how ridiculous this is.