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The car argument.

A poem, by Lyzi Diamond.

Is driving a choice?
Do we allow cars on campus?
What are the effects of car exhaust on lungs?
What kind of carcinogens exist there?
Can the university ban cars on campus?
Is breathing car exhaust healthier than breathing second-hand smoke?
Does the university try to create a culture change surrounding vehicular transport?
Do students live on campus?
Do students drive to campus?
She furrowed her brow in thought
and took another drag from her cigarette.

  1. Darth Buscemi says:

    People need things to help maintain their focus and get them through the day, or else society would collapse. Unless you’ve tried smoking you’re not really in a position to assess its benefits, which seems to be where most of the opposition is coming from.

    Similarly, caffeine has been proven to induce stress ( which is one of the leading causes of heart disease, it also contributes to littering, but you wouldn’t deny someone their morning Starbucks, would you?

    And can we please drop the “second-hand smoke is bad” argument. The studies claiming this all focused on long-term exposure in enclosed areas. In fact, the review of second hand smoke studies by the former Surgeon General Richard Carmona only endorses indoor bans ( A whiff of outdoor, second-hand smoke is about as dangerous as a fart, or grass burning, or the godawful pollen.

  2. Curtis says:

    FWIW, I didn’t see an assumption in what Zach wrote – he just asked the question about whether it’s reasonable to ban smoking indoors (which you answered, BTW).

    By the way, there’s one fundamental difference between smoking and other human activities which present risks or dangers that you have brought up in the last week, including unhealthy food and cars. That difference is that nourishment and transportation are necessary parts of human civilization – people need to eat and they need to get around, and some of the ways that they accomplish those necessary tasks can be less healthy than others. But in the case of food, the risk is internalized, and in the case of transportation, most people (probably not Zach or Jeremy) would argue that speedy transportation via combustion engine is worth the minute risk of illness from being exposed to emissions.

    I think it’s similar to (but not the same as) the legal concept of a “compelling interest”. Government doesn’t have the right to restrict free speech unless there’s a compelling public interest to do so (such as public safety). Not only is banning smoking backed by a public interest in healthy air, but smoking itself doesn’t exactly fulfill some kind of necessary public benefit. You could argue that people have the right to clean, emissions-free air, but most people would argue that cars provide a necessary benefit that outweighs its risks.

    In short, there’s a public interest in banning smoking on campus if it keeps communal air cleaner, and additionally most people would probably agree there’s NOT a compelling public purpose served by smoking that would give legitimacy to the argument that people should be allowed to pollute the air around them.

  3. Darth Buscemi says:

    zstarmac: how is that different than banning smoking outdoors?

    Same reason teepees have holes at the top.

  4. Lyzi Diamond says:


    All of the second-hand smoke data I’ve ever seen is from the concentration of smoke inside enclosed spaces (buildings). When smoke dissipates in the ambient air it has much less of an effect on other people.

    I am NOT saying that second-hand smoke does not have an effect on people, or that I don’t care about it. It actually offends me a little that you would make that assumption.


  5. zstarmac says:

    My question is, do you see it as reasonable to ban smoking in buildings?
    And if so, why? and how is that different than banning smoking outdoors?


  6. darren says:

    I am not in favor of a ban on smoking however it would be nice if people from one place to another on a crowded sidewalk would be more considerate of the people behind them who do not like to smell like their smoke. This is my only complaint about smoking which I do not feel is enough for a ban.

  7. Andrew says:

    My general philosophy is to have a system that allows accessibility for commuter students that have to drive while encouraging traditional students to utilize alternative transportation. A park n ride is the best option that colleges have utilized to do just that. UO is required by law to provide a minimim amount of parking spaces- having those spaces in the campus periphery that shuttles these commuter students seems like a win for everyone.

    Ian and Alex did an internship analyzing the issue this summer, I’m sure their report will be floating around soon.

  8. Lyzi Diamond says:

    Z and J: Thoughts on the smoking ban?

  9. You make the commentator fun, Lyzi. I love your genuine thoughtfulness.

    Also, yes, let’s ban cars on campus.

    But for real, I think there’s a reasonable constriction on cars now. I don’t think I’d be in favor of banning them or getting rid of all parking. The pressure right now is a good balance. You can drive if you absolutely need to, but most people don’t need to, and they take public transit or walk/bike instead. And I would bet that those experiences open them up to alternate transportation later in life as well. All good things in my eyes, of course.

  10. zstarmac says:

    These are excellent points! I think you’ve convinced me.
    Let’s do it! How do you suggest we go about banning cars from campus?

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