In case you’ve been living under a rock or something, the University of Oregon will become a smoke-free campus starting in the fall of 2012. Based on the information provided to the Oregon Commentator thus far, the ban will not be actively enforced, as it is at the University of Iowa, but will be a campus culture change, complete with the removal of smoking stations (ashtrays), the installation of “no smoking” and “smoke-free campus” signs and an implicit and explicit understanding that this is a smoke-free campus, with our peers staring us down until we put out our cigarettes.
“When I say ‘don’t think of a pink elephant,’ I’ve just put the thought of a pink elephant in your head,” says Earp. “No smoking signs in particular are everywhere. If you’re a smoker walking down a street you’re likely to pass five or six of these signs in windows or on doors. If you have a chronically positive attitude to smoking this could boost your craving.”
And from the Daily Mail article linked to above:
Mr Earp added: ‘What’s interesting is the ironic effect of the negative image. No smoking signs are meant to discourage an activity but what happens is you get a kick back so that the very item that’s supposed to be prohibited becomes more desirable.
‘My hunch is that having all this “don’t do this” information out there may have ironic consequences.’
If the forward movement on the UO smoking ban is indeed going to involve an insurgence of signs and peer pressure, the ASUO, Paula Staight and the UO administration may want to rethink their tactics. If the goal is to get students to quit smoking, perhaps they should funnel some of that $800,000 PacificSource-donated healthy campus initiative money to education on tobacco and smoking rather than a passive-aggressive, peer-pressuring ban.
Maybe allowing students to think for themselves based on provided information may actually be more effective than telling them how to live their lives.