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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Passive tactics may be futile in enforcing impending smoking ban, study shows

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.

But GOOD’s culture team points us to a recent study done by a researcher at Oxford University which shows that no-smoking signs actually encourage smokers to pull one out and light up. From GOOD:

“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.

  1. Oh! I’d like to add: Don’t be fooled by the “It won’t be enforced” statements. That’s set up simply to make the start of the ban more palatable so that it would be passed without so much controversy. Once students have accepted this, the banners will be back the following year to say “There are still a few persistent violators who are polluting the campus for everybody so we have decided to…”

    The decision after the “to…” part of that may start off with either the Iron Fist or with the Velvet Glove. Whichever is at the beginning though, the Fist will come through in the end and students and faculty will eventually be expelled on their third, or maybe even their first, violation.

    THAT is what the future holds if you accept the camel’s nose inside your tent.

    – MJM

  2. Lyzi Diamond says:

    We did one this year, already. Wouldn’t hurt to do another one, though.

  3. NGA says:

    Will the OC still be holding the annual smoke-out (smoke-in?)?

  4. Betz says:

    I actually think this is a pretty intelligent move by the ASUO. It basically costs nothing except for the additional signage, you don’t experience any of the backlash if you had active enforcement of this policy, and I think it will be really effective. People who REALLY WANT to smoke still will … but I think that all of the signs and everything will really curb others that are “on the fence”.

    The one thing that I don’t get is the removal of the smoking station / ashtrays. Those were created to curb cig littering by those that actually smoke. By removing them, wouldn’t they just be solving one problem, and creating another?

    As for “tobacco education” … meh. Honestly, how many people would attend presentations and workshops about that in college? If you haven’t picked it up from the DARE group in K-12 public schools by the time you reach college, you probably either ignored the message, or just don’t care – b/c I remember tobacco education being EVERYWHERE in high school (mainly because as a senior, you are already old enough to purchase cigs).

  5. brogers says:

    Gee, I wonder what all I would do for $800,000?

  6. Billy says:

    The anti smoking cartel knows that strict hammer down tactics raise to much opposition. The press would eat up a story of 400 students protest the smoking ban by trying to duplicate the pollution caused by the faculty staff autos by a sit down smoke in of their parking lot. Yea publicity against the smoking ban is not desired by the cartel as they would rather spread propaganda that all is well, every employee of the smoking cartel loves it so much they post in all blogs as part of their daily job!
    Public disobedience to a smoking ban refutes the propaganda of the cartel and draws the ire of politicians who got sucked it to the propaganda. It also raises question of what th health care industry plans next in their new found power of writing law. Example Floridas doctors questioning gun ownership. If they make gun control a public health issue like the smoking issue we will lose out guns and as a non smoker I see a danger to Americans both smokers and non smokers as radicals know no limits to power addiction.

  7. $800,000 “healthy campus initiative” money eh?

    Would the University have gotten that money if it REFUSED to ban smoking on campus, or was that a bribe?

    Folks on campus might want to read the “Lies Behind The Smoking Bans” at:

    so they’ll better understand the “basis” of bans like this. Feel free to print it out to share it: it’s really designed as a “Tom Paine” handout booklet sort of thing… a bit bombastic in style, but its facts are accurate and their presentation is honest.

    I also wrote a short article on campus bans and engaged in a lively debate on them in the University of Pennsylvania’s campus newspaper several weeks ago. You might find it interesting… particularly the ultimate failure of the campus’s self-proclaimed “Publlic Health Wizard” in even trying to back up the offering he made. See:

    – MJM

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