Aggravated by un-enforced smoking ban? Blame yourself

Shelley Blundell

Last Tuesday, the Daily Kent Stater‘s editorial board ran an opinion piece regarding the various problems with the passage of Issue 5, the law that banned smoking in most public places, including bars and restaurants.

There has also been feedback from various people, expressing an opinion one way or another regarding this law.

In light of the range of opinions being tossed about, I would like to add my five cents.

Upset because the proposed ban isn’t working? Bars and restaurants ignoring the ban got you down in the mouth? Even worse, the evil smokers of the world didn’t stop invading your valuable breathing space when you voted them to?

You’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

In Fall 2005, the Kent State Stark campus became the Kent State system front-runner of tackling issues regarding smoking. Previously, smokers had been allowed to smoke anywhere outdoors, even directly outside the main entrances and exits in the winter, causing non-smokers to fight their way through clouds of cigarette smoke on their way to and from classes.

Eventually, a few of the Stark campus administrators and some student workers got together and put out a survey, asking the campus a variety of questions related to smoking, particularly whether they thought there should be designated areas for smokers.

Guess what? An overwhelming majority of survey respondents said designated areas would be a good idea. And when smoking areas were specifically designated in Fall 2005, very few problems were had with people ignoring the new regulations.

Want to know why? Because when people saw smokers breaking the rules, they spoke out. It was understood from the beginning that the new regulations were to be self-enforced, and many people did just that. Soon, smokers got the point and now incidents of smokers ignoring the regulations are few. People made it known that smoking outside of a designated area would not be tolerated.

Why? Because the campus majority had decided to have it that way.

I recently wrote a story for a local North Canton newspaper dealing with this same issue from a business owner’s perspective: If it’s the “law,” why are some owners not complying? As one of the bar owners said, it’s business 101 – it’s not worth losing smoking clients to keep a business non-smoking if no one is enforcing the ban.

That’s where you come in, oh utterly peeved non-smoker.

You see, according to a 2005 prevalence study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, only 22.3 percent of Ohio adults are currently smokers.

That means 77.7 percent of adults are not.

Want to stop smoking at your favorite bar? Then stop going there. Tell your friends to stop too. While you’re at it, get a petition from all non-smokers stating that until those businesses stop ignoring the ban, you will stop frequenting them.

But you won’t do it, will you? It’s much easier to point the finger of blame at the government, the bar owners, the smokers, everyone else but yourself because the law you voted in isn’t working yet. And who wants to give up their Friday night at the bar, anyway?

The ball’s in your court, non-smokers – speak up or shut up.

Shelley Blundell is a history graduate, a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].