Right? Wrong.

The State System of Higher Education has declared all of their campuses as smoke-free under the new state law mandating smoke-free workplaces.

This has pissed off the student smokers who now are forced to leave the campus if they’d like to smoke.

Now, I’ll preface this by saying that it seems a bit heavy-handed to not even offer a smokers area, and that’s coming from a chick who growls softly every time she walks through a cloud of smoke on the sidewalks of the Burgh.

Having said that, there was a protest on Clarion’s campus yesterday:

“Many of us try to be courteous to nonsmokers. We realize they don’t like it,” she said. “But my thing is ‘I’ll respect you if you respect me.’ These are our rights.”

Yesterday, at Clarion, the protesters briefly marched to the campus library, shouting “What do we want? The right to smoke!” as a pair of campus police officers followed.

Dear Stupidheads of Clarion University of Pennsylvania:

I realize you’re still in college so you haven’t yet fully acquired all of your smarts, so calling you stupidheads is not an insult.  It’s a fact.

Please be aware of a few things:

1.  Smoking is fun until the cancer sets in.

2.  Nowhere in the written law, not in the Constitution, not in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights (hey, I bet you stupidheads didn’t even know that the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution), not in any state law does it say, “And the people shall have the right to smoke, damn it!  Light ’em up!”

Therefore, it is not a right any more than peeing in public is a right.  But, how awesome would a group of protesters yelling, “What do we want? The right to pee on the sidewalk!” be?!

You never had the right; no one ever took the right away from you; and unless Congress amends the constitution, you aren’t ever going to have the “right” you think you had and lost.

3.  Fight the ban if you’d like, because I think you have the power in numbers to get some smokers areas designated, but please shut up about your friggin’ rights because when you do, your stupidhead is showing.


  1. Dan (Not Onarato)
    September 16, 2008 11:45 am

    I suppose they think they have the right to be a stupidhead?


  2. unsatisfied
    September 16, 2008 12:03 pm

    each of these kids should be made to watch that old yul brynner tv spot that he made right before he died of cancer: “don’t smoke.”

    perhaps then they’ll see how wrong they are about their “right.”


    a former smoker

  3. Sarah Palin
    September 16, 2008 12:29 pm

    Word to the mother…

  4. Mark Denovich
    September 16, 2008 12:30 pm

    It’s a deal if you ban loud children in public places too.

    Old and busted: “Home of the free, land of the brave”
    New hotness: “I want my mommy…”

  5. bucdaddy
    September 16, 2008 12:31 pm

    Is Clarion going to go completely alcohol-free too, right down to the frat houses and parking lot tailgates at football games? Will it allow booze in whatever passes for luxury boxes at the stadium? How about at on-campus alumni functions? How about at the student union, if there’s a pub there?

    I don’t smoke, never have, but I loves my beer (can I get a witness, spoon?); nevertheless, I see some hypocrisy here, and I’m calling it. The PTB at Clarion obviously have “the right” to make whatever rules they want, but they might show the same courtesy to smoke addicts that they (presumably) do to booze addicts.

    “not in any state law …”

    Maybe not, but the state never turns down a dollar in cigarette taxes, does it?

  6. john
    September 16, 2008 12:33 pm

    Some students marched against the Vietnam war, students in Tienemann Square marched about human rights, these brainics are taking a solid stand on smoking…hear hear…while you are at it march to abolish the drink tax too!

  7. Bob Dobalina
    September 16, 2008 1:34 pm

    “It’s a deal if you ban loud children in public places too”
    A loud kid does not give you cancer asswipe

  8. Me
    September 16, 2008 1:41 pm

    I remember learning way, way, way back in civics class in elementary school that basically my rights end when they infringe on the rights of others, i.e., I have the right to cut my grass, but when doing so at midnight infringes on my neighbor’s right to sleep, I no longer have that right. Which is why the whole “smoker’s rights” thing drives me batty as an argument. Fine, you have the right to pollute your air and your lungs, etc. all you want, but as soon as it pollutes my air, and my lungs your rights stop. That’s the limit of the right to smoke.

  9. Dan (Not Onarato)
    September 16, 2008 1:42 pm

    @ Mark- Nice Men in Black reference

  10. Phil Morris
    September 16, 2008 1:51 pm

    bucdaddy and the rest of you chubs need to get it through your craniums that banning cigarette smoke in public places has nothing to do with trying to improve smokers’ health or coerce their behavior, but rather to protect the health of others. Kind of like the way it is illegal to drive while impaired. Get it? So really the alcohol example is pretty weak(sorry I call em as I see em)If you want to question the premise that second hand smoke is not dangerous that is another argument, good luck with that one.

  11. retiredguy
    September 16, 2008 2:20 pm

    While these kids have no “right” to smoke, and the schools can ban smoking on their property, banning smoking outdoors has nothing to do with others health. When you are outside you are breathing in a lot of harmful things. I’m assuming that these campuses have cars and buses right? An outdoor smoking area removed from the general public would cause no harm to anyone other than those who choose to use it.

    And no, I don’t smoke (any more). I quit 3 packs a day one year ago next month. Heck, when I was going to Pitt, you could smoke in the classrooms, during class!

  12. SRUAsh
    September 16, 2008 2:46 pm

    While I am not going to start a protest group here at Slippery Rock University, I am a little annoyed by the smoking ban, 1 because there was nothing leading up to this, all we received was an e-mail saying hey guess what you can’t smoke here any more (ok not exactly but that was the idea) no count down or hey in 5 days this will take effect and 2 its ridiculous to ban it from the ENTIRE campus. Yes, I would understand banning it from outside the doors of buildings and on walkways for non smokers health but what would be wrong with the little benched in areas like kennywood has (or had I don’t know if this changed since the ban) and also the fake dry campus thing applies here as well the alumni house is allowed alcohol as well as I’ve never seen a tailgater even get glanced at for having alcohol in the parking lots, even though its not relevant I thought I’d add that

  13. toni
    September 16, 2008 2:55 pm

    These legislators that brought about the smoking laws are the same jackasses that can’t behave themselves when it comes to sneaking in a middle of the night illegal vote for a payraise.

    Case in point: There was legislation to police airline pilots so that they can’t fly drunk/drugged. Our saintly legislators tacked some goofy nonsense onto what should be a no brainer bill. Result? It didn’t pass.

    I can respect that in enclosed spaces you wouldn’t want a smoker anywhere near you…but outside??? And let’s take it off the hot topic of smoking and onto some innoculous behavior that government is looking to police.

    The Federal government is seriously debating forcing people to have to buy special light bulbs…never mind that they are triple the cost of regular light bulbs and if broken have far more dangerous components to them then what we are currently using.

    Let’s get off the behavioral law kick and start really start debating laws that would make a big difference in the vast majority of Pennsylvanians. Like a smaller state government to cut down on the bloated debt for instance.

  14. John
    September 16, 2008 3:03 pm

    That’s church, PG.

  15. retiredguy
    September 16, 2008 3:27 pm


    Bet your bottom dollar there will be a federal law concerning compact flourescent bulbs. We already are limited by the federal government as to the size of the toilet tank in your house. Can light bulbs be far behind.

    These folks that worry about second hand smoke (outdoors) ought to be trying to ban diesel buses and wood burning fireplaces and stoves too. Not to mention oil burning furnaces. You or your neighbor heats with heating oil, you might as well start smoking.

  16. Papaya Jerry
    September 16, 2008 3:58 pm

    Retiredguy, toni, BZZT, thanks for playing. Try this:

    Smoking outside is not “innoculous” behavior. Tell that to my friend who has to haul out her inhaler every time she has to walk through a cloud of smoke outside (she teaches at a large out-of-state university) and who’s wound up in the ER for respiratory treatments after walking through smoke in cold, dry winter air.

    Retiredguy, there’s a lot more to cigarette smoke than to fumes produced by hydrocarbon fuels. If I walked around with a spray can dispersing benzene, arsenic, cyanide, and too many carcinogens to count into the air, I’d probably be shipped to Gitmo for terrist activity. If it’s coming out of your mouth, either exhaled or from a burning tip, it’s just plaid-dandy. Also, from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_smoking):

    There is some evidence that reducing exposure to tobacco smoke cuts the risk of heart attack. When Helena, Montana implemented a 100% smokefree law, heart attack admissions in the local hospital dropped by 40%, and rebounded when a court suspended the law. Heart attack admissions have been shown by meta-analysis to drop by an average 27% after the implementation of smoke-free laws.

    Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been shown to be a much higher source of pollution than an idling ecodiesel engine in regard to particulate matter (PM) emission. In an experiment conducted by the Tobacco Control Unit of the National Cancer Institute, three cigarettes were left smouldering, one after the other, in a 60 m³ garage with a limited air exchange. The cigarettes produced PM indoor pollution exceeding outdoor limits, as well as PM concentrations up to 10-fold that of the idling engine.

    I understand the worries about government overregulation; I can’t say I’m a big fan of the gov’t starting with my municipal counsel and ending with DC. If you don’t like the way the government operates, push for reform; however, don’t flap around like a seagull crapping on laws that actually help public health. If you’re that worried about invasion of privacy, lobby to have the mandatory seat-belt laws repealed, then wait a few months and spend a night at AGH’s trauma center to see what wonders you’ve wrought.

    SRUAsh, I sympathize for your irritation as well, but again, please try to separate the bureaucratic bumbling from the good that’ll result from it.

  17. unsatisfied
    September 16, 2008 4:42 pm

    @ Phil Morris — go take a drag and blow it out yer ass.

  18. bucdaddy
    September 16, 2008 5:04 pm

    Phil, Did anyone ever drive the wrong way down the freeway and plow into an oncoming vehicle and kill people under the influence of cigarette smoke? Maybe if he dropped a lit ciggie in his lap but … I think you get my point.

    Today your cigarettes, tomorrow your Big Mac.

    Nanny State 2008.

  19. Still A Fan
    September 16, 2008 7:24 pm

    this is a very logical argument that nobody can deny. the only reason it’s being proposed is that it has been proven to cause harm to others. you can drink a beer legally and it does not affect others. if you drink 10 beers illegally and drive – NOW you are affecting others. easy logic to follow in my mind. even if they have a smokers area, it would have to be in a remote place for me to be happy with it. i’m not a smoking nazi, but i know people who it seriously bothers. if people who smoke can make flights across the country, they can not smoke on campus.

  20. Different Brian
    September 16, 2008 8:01 pm

    I agree. When I walk by smokers I am always offended by their smoke. We should ban them… but keep raking in that tax money. Also, when I walk down the street, the car fumes make me cough, or, gasp, sneeze. We should ban cars! But keep pulling in that gasoline tax money. My second cousin’s neighbor’s niece’s best friend’s mailman gets ear aches every time a freight train goes by… we should ban those too! Oh, and people who yap on their cell phones drive me crazy… we should ban phones! I have to spend all this money for my mental health!

    Lighten up people. Everyone is bound to be annoyed or offended or inconvenienced twenty times in the course of their day. Why must we all take things so personally and seriously? Walk by the smokers and laugh at them because they are ruining their own lives. Thats your own right.

    Libertarianism, people. Give it a try sometime and worry more about yourself and not what every other person around you is doing that you don’t like.

  21. Jeff M
    September 16, 2008 8:23 pm

    Not to be too nit-picky, but “unless Congress amends the constitution” isn’t really the way it works. Article 5 explains the process, and while Congress can propose amendments , or they can be proposed by a convention of the States, the actual amending happens when 3/4 of the States ratify it. I’m just sayin…

  22. Phil Morris
    September 16, 2008 9:42 pm

    @ buc daddy I would be willing to bet a case of Lord Chesterfield Ale as many or even more people die in this country every year from the effects of second hand smoke than are killed by drunk drivers(via lung cancer and heart disease) to say nothing of the costs. Don’t confuse a nanny state with public heath policy that makes ethical and economic sense.

  23. retiredguy
    September 17, 2008 8:37 am

    That is why I said a smoking area removed from the general public. I don’t like walking thru smoke either, and I smoked for 30 years. My mother had lung cancer twice, I took care of her in my home all the way up to the end. I know the cost of smoking. I also know how hard it is to quit.

    Still, cigarettes produce lower particulate emissions in grams per hour than cars, diesel trucks and buses, wood burning stoves and fireplaces.

    If you are in traffic, walking near traffic, burn wood, ride a bus, etc. you are breathing in as much or more harmful particulates as produced by second hand smoke.

    If you don’t want to breath bad things, ya better get out the duct tape and seal up the house.

  24. Mark Denovich
    September 17, 2008 8:55 am

    I prepared myself to be disappointed by self-righteous, hypocritical reactions and yet the majority of commenters still managed to exceed my expectations.

  25. toni
    September 17, 2008 9:24 am

    Papaya Jerry …I know better than you about lungs and ER’s….I was a respiratory therapist for 10 years. As for reform, I DO push for it…I regularly write my senators and representatives.

    You want to keep going on about outdoor smoking…kewl…I’ll keep on my soapbox about government regulating private behavior.

  26. bucdaddy
    September 17, 2008 9:42 am

    Lord Chesterfield Ale, you say? Hmmm …

    I’m pretty sure you can easily prove that when a driver with a .25 BAC plows into another car and kills a few people, alcohol was involved. I’ve always wondered how the hell you can prove exposure to second-hand smoke killed you? I see the numbers, and they’re impressive, but: How do you prove that? Seems to me it’s like me living under a power line and trying to prove that’s why I have leukemia or something. If retiredguy is right, how do you prove it was cigarette smoke among the myriad other poisons we consume and inhale every day that caused your lung cancer? If you worked 30 years as a bartender, OK, I give you the benefit of the doubt. If you were a kid growing up trapped in a house where mommy and daddy went through three packs a day, you’ve got me. But walking outdoors through 10 feet of smoke cloud at Clarion on your way to the (cough, gasp, wheeze) bus, you can prove to me that’s going to kill you? Seriously?

  27. Phil Moris
    September 17, 2008 9:52 am

    I think you are right that the ban on the outdoor part is a little over the top. But I would listen to scientists before corporate lobbyists on the issue. So how about we split a case or a growler of E.End Black Strap.

  28. Zsa
    September 17, 2008 10:20 am

    If Clarion was a private school like W & J or Chatham, there would be no protest whatsoever. Private schools can get their Nazi on as much as they want.

    But publicly owned/state owned schools are a different matter. They do have rights that private schools do not. There are things the admin cannot do – like banning fraternities and sororities. The presidents of all 14 state schools would LOVE to do that but they cannot because it would interfere with the freedom of association. There is no alcohol allowed on campus (including alumni house) because the majority of people on campus are under 21. None of the fraternity houses are on campus.

    But the chancellor went overboard with this, especially with no warning. As one of the students pointed out, this is the Clean INDOOR Air Act. What the chancellor has done would be equivalent to the Mayor of Bethel Park banning smoking from the streets and from cars driving through Bethel Park.

  29. bucdaddy
    September 17, 2008 6:26 pm

    EE Black Strap? You’re on! Coming to the ballgame for Fan Depreciation Day on Sunday. Where will you be?

  30. spoon
    September 17, 2008 6:35 pm

    Had the Black Strap at the Steel City Big Pour last weekend. If you’re handing out growlers I’m in!

  31. bucdaddy
    September 17, 2008 7:40 pm

    Oh yeah, for drinking purposes the plan at the moment is to stop at McGrogan’s Taproom in Canonsburg postgame (I often need a serious drink after watching the Sux). I scored one of the WPXI half-price deals and there are still some left on the Web site, FYI. If that’s anywhere near your neighborhood, a hook-up seems doable.

    No EE when I was there Sunday last, tho :(

  32. bucdaddy
    September 17, 2008 7:40 pm

    Oh yeah 2X: McGrogan’s is smoke-free.

  33. ultraviolet
    September 20, 2008 10:43 am

    been out of town so i’m a bit behind on PG postings…
    i am all for banning smoking inside, even the dive-est dives, well because its gross & smelly and no one feels good after 2+ hours in a cloud of smoke. sure i can not go to those places, but its better for the business if the smoker just GOES OUTSIDE for a few minutes (even in the dead of winter, yes. don’t be a wuss) smokers $ + non-smokers $ = more money.
    that said, this is going a bit far. particularly for smokers that live on campus. on big campuses, its a long walk to have a smoke. sure, the walk will do them good, sure maybe they should NOT smoke, maybe they need to learn how to throw their godd&#@ butts away (pet peeve of mine) but…this is still too much. i don’t think total elimination of smoking is going to happen anytime soon. time money and effort really should be spent on more important things (elimination of cancer?) plus, i read an article that said smokers die sooner & faster so their lifetime health care costs end up being much less than a non-smoker. haha.

  34. medgirl
    September 21, 2008 7:53 pm

    chill out people, we live in a Communist country now anyways. Pretty soon the government will be telling us what to wear and how to pee.

  35. brother strawberry
    September 22, 2008 4:08 pm

    the front page of the california times newspaper of california university of pennsylvania covered the protest on that campus. more than 100 students stood silently with lit cigarettes in raised fists to voice objection.

    they should use their voiceboxes while they still have them.

    what i find most sad and pathetic about this is that while the attack on iraq was looming, there was a debate on that campus. both pro and anti-war views were asked to attend and speak.

    i took a few hours off work and drove there to take part.
    i worked nearby.

    when i lived and worked at c.u.p. i was one of the few voices opposed to daddy bushes 1991 desert tantrum.
    now there was a scheduled rally asking for opinion and debate!
    things must be changing i thought!!
    could c.u.p. have become the hotbed of activism, enlightenment and awareness that i have always envisioned a campus of higher learning is supposed to be?!!!?

    less than twenty people showed up.

    more than one hundred protest a smoking ban
    less than twenty protest a war

    these are the leaders of tomorrow?
    this is the future of our country?