Smoking Outside Bobst Doesn’t Make You Cool

Annie Cohen, Staff Writer

The fact that smoking is detrimental to one’s health is no secret — both smokers and non-smokers alike are aware of this. Public-service campaigns dedicated to spreading education about the dangers of smoking and tobacco are introduced in adolescence  in the hopes that as children mature, they will not lose sight of the risks. Despite this, nearly 17 out of 100 American adults still smoke cigarettes, and more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.

At NYU, while smoking is prohibited in residence halls and academic buildings, clusters of cigarette smokers still tend to assemble around building entrances. This is true of most places around the city ever since the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act was passed in 2002, prohibiting smoking in workplaces and indoor recreational venues such as bars and restaurants. While the SFAA and similar legislation across the state have drastically reduced places where it is acceptable to smoke, the dangers of smoking continue to be a part of everyday life. Pedestrians — or, say, NYU students walking past Weinstein or Bobst — continue to be confronted by toxic hazes of smoke as they walk to school or work. And although a 2011 law banned smoking in NYC parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas, a walk through Washington Square Park on a crowded day would suggest that this law is rarely enforced.

College and high-school students can be easily be pressured to smoke due to a number of factors including peer influence and tobacco lobbying firms that work to normalize this behavior. Many college students who smoke socially reject the label of smoker, as they plan to quit sometime around graduation, a plan which, unsurprisingly, is rarely successful. The disappointing fact is that soaring tobacco prices and more public health information than any other time in history are simply not strong enough deterrents for to stop students from trying it. This is why, as a community here at NYU and as a society at large, we need to be working harder to curb smoking and the health risks they present. Similar universities nationwide have enacted smoke-free campus regulations. Although the spread-out nature of NYU’s campus makes such an effort difficult, it can be done if enough people support it. NYU has been trying to curb the student smoking epidemic, but that unfortunately does not mean that people will abide by the university’s guidelines.

Approximately 12,000 NYC residents die from smoking related causes each year. While people have the right to do whatever they choose to their body, this right does not extend to other people’s bodies. NYU, NYC and the rest of the world need to look at smoking for what it is — a public health crisis — and act accordingly.


Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, November 7th print edition. Email Annie Cohen at [email protected]



  1. Do you know what it means when people defy the bombardment of information and policy? It means they’ve had enough, not that they need more. It’s time to accept it and just leave people alone. If you don’t want your children to smoke then that’s a parental lesson, not a conscription of other adults — at the expense of their liberty to use a legal product — to teach it to them for you.

    And yes, that means denying the ability to smoke outdoors too. When you think you’re going to drop dead from all the exhaust circling NYU on a 24 hour basis as much as you think you’re going to drop dead from 5 seconds worth of passing a lit cigarette a few times a day (if that much) then come back and talk. Until then, logic dictates that these over the top concerns of that transient smoke is the product of fear mongering in a grand behavior modification experiment by a bunch of Prohibitionists.

    Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against SmokerHarassment (C.L.A.S.H.)
    (noted for full transparency)

  2. Secondhand smoke as a health risk was shown to be a fraud in 1998. The late, great Sidney Zion wrote in the NYC daily news:

    “THERE is nothing more powerful than a lie whose time has come. Throughout history, tyrants understood this, and so worked up the populace. In this bloodiest of centuries, we’ve seen it all from Hitler to McCarthyism. And now we have the truth about the anti-smoke fascists. Last week, a federal judge wiped out the entire basis of all this business about the danger of secondhand smoke, a lie that has transformed our culture, from saloons to our homes.”

    Only on the thinnest of technicalities was the judge’s opinion overturned. The findings of the court remain intact. It was never about health. It’s all about control, and in this country is doomed to eventual failure.

  3. Funny, isn’t it, that the generations of Americans who grew up in a world where literally half of all adults smoked–at home, at work, in bars, restaurants, movie theaters, hospitals–are the longest-lived generations in history, and not by the way have rates of asthma about a tenth of what they are now. Further, US mortality figures show (look them up) that more non-smokers than smokers die from what have been touted as ‘smoking-related” causes.

    Further: The only studies ever done on the health effects to nonsmokers from secondhand smoke were done on couples married for an average of 3O years and people who worked in smoky indoor environments for a similar time. Even then, the results were both small and equivocal and half the studies done (the ones you never hear about) showed no effect at all. Again, look it up but first better learn how to read a study.

  4. Actually, it does. Smoking ups your rebel status by 100%.

    That aside, this current trend in unis banning smoking and complaining about smokers outside (where you forced them to in the first place) is laughable. As a student from Germany, I can only shake my head. Frankly, no-one gives a damn where you smoke outside, no-one abides by outside no-smoking signs/areas. And you know what? It’s good no-one cares! We’ve even got a smoking room, a tobacconist, and multiple cigarette vending machines on campus. It’s live and let live; if you, coming from a big city such as NYC, worry about some fumes emitted by cigarettes and are completely oblivious to the fact that tens of thousands of cars spew their exhausts every second of the day, perhaps you should re-evaluate your intellect and fitness for studying. Give it a break. Smoking is part of the social experience; denying that is denying the freedom of expression. There is no foundation to ban smoking as there are no health risks. You’ll never eradicate the “habit”, or rather the pleasure. Relax. Or, even better, have a smoke 😉

  5. Years ago, long before this antismoking thing got as fanatical as they are now, Lynn Samuels wrote an opinion piece in the “Long Island Press”. Her take on it was that if we really wanted young people not to smoke, we’d give them cigarettes and tell them they had to smoke up because they’re good for you.
    Some of humanities oldest stories (Adam and Eve, Pandora’s Box) remind us that the surest way to make something “cool” is to make it forbidden.


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