USyd smokers? Smoking OFF USyd!

There is a culture war in USyd. Our proud claim that we are a “smoke-free campus” is controversial to many students, and they are taking to social media to blatantly flout the rules in shameful displays that glorify a harmful pastime.

I came to USyd thinking that not smoking was a great idea. Growing up in the 2000s, I felt like anti-smoking ads were everywhere. Deliberately off-putting images of sick, wrinkled old people croaking words of warning made me submit. For me, not smoking has always seemed like a no-brainer, but it seems that many of my fellow students don’t share the same concerns.

Throughout my life, I always assumed that there would be a general tendency not to smoke. Unfortunately, the miracle of capitalist dynamism disappointed my expectations. The introduction of e-cigarettes to the market and their branding as a “healthier alternative” by the same masterminds behind big tobacco, has seen a general upward trend in smoking.

It’s obvious why. The cigarette stinks! All the wrappers are covered in grotesque depictions of gangrene and cancer! But vaping? Cute, trendy, pastel! They smell and taste delicious sugar! No question that they are as harmful as stinky cigarettes! Aside from the fact that vaping looks kinda silly and silly (while smoking is obviously cool as hell), it seems like the best alternative to cigarettes.

What a disaster!

Embracing vaping, for the average teenager, seems to be all the social benefits of nicotine use, without any of the icky lungs we’ve seen in TV commercials. How wrong they are! There is almost no evidence to say that vaping is better than smoking – it still affects you negatively, but in different ways. It’s also true that vaping is the gateway drug of our time, with an ANU study finding that those who try vaping are three times more likely to later smoke. It is therefore not surprising that in 2020 cigarette sales increased for the first time in decades.

At the forefront of the pro-tobacco insurgency is the ‘@smokersofusyd’ Instagram account. This is a page dedicated to making the smoke-free campus rule commonplace. So far, only four photos have been posted to the account, but each has been met with support from student body members, calling for a more smoke-friendly campus. I have already been very vocal in their comments section about my disagreement with their philosophy, but I seem to be shouting into the void. I sat down with ‘Smokers of USyd’ [a pseudonym] to mash the beef.

Hello smokers. Can I call you smokers?

Smokers of USyd: I guess that’s fine.

Great. Are you a USyd smoker yourself?

Smokers: I think everyone is a smoker. Smoking is more than just smoking cigarettes or sipping vapes. To be a smoker is to be human. Then yes!

No matter. What are you trying to prove through the page?

Smoking: I believe that some USyd campus policies are detrimental to the welfare of smokers on campus. USyd’s “smoke-free campus” policy pushes smokers into the gutters of society and portrays them as grotesque outcasts – which we are not. Believe it or not, smoking can be addictive and as such, smokers cannot be blamed at all for the increase in smog on campus. We need collective action to pull the oppressed smoking class out of the gutter and make USyd a smoker-friendly campus again. Our current smoking areas can barely be called glorified sandboxes and must eventually be demolished as society strives to integrate smoking into all areas of campus, including indoor spaces.

Where do you see Smokers of USyd in the future?

Smokers: I hope one day all students can learn the pleasures of the simple, social pastime of smoking. Although the current page is vaper friendly, I would like to use this piece as a platform to send a health message to everyone who vapes. Please vapistes, there is an organic plant-based alternative that you should all switch to: cigarettes!

Do you think your page promotes harmful behavior?

Smokers: The only thing the page promotes is the inclusiveness of the smoking class. Far from promoting harmful behavior, the page is a ray of hope and a guiding star for smokers who might feel excluded from social circles because they are forced to suck their cigarettes in the icy wilderness or in the crevices of pubs. I am here to encourage the people of USyd to participate in this relaxing pastime knowing that you are welcome and human.

Did you know that in Australia alone it is estimated that around 90% of lung cancer cases in men and 65% in women are smoking result?

Smokers: When?

When? It’s happening now!

Smokers: when did I ask?

It’s really inappropriate. Can you please answer the question seriously?

Smokers: Okay.

So ended our interview. We walked to City Road together before parting ways. I stood watching them walk away, thinking about our conversation and what I could have done differently; kicking me so as not to have more impact. Before long, they mysteriously disappeared behind a cloud of exhaust from a passing bus. It was a fitting conclusion to a totally disappointing conversation.

I can’t pretend to understand the sentiment behind the page. The rules are clear: smoking is prohibited on campus. Not all laws are fair, but this one is. Our bright young minds deserve clean air! Campus should be a safe space for people with sensitive lungs and for those of us who have made the sensible decision not to smoke. @smokersofusyd is just promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. They are a plague on our beautiful campus. The pro-tobacco propaganda they put out is disgusting and only inflames my anti-tobacco feelings. I hope more people will join my crusade.

Students should enrich their minds and not indulge in harmful pastimes. Keep smoking off campus.

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