Rebuttal: As Adults, Students Should be Able to Smoke as They Please
In the 1985 Supreme Court case New Jersey v. T.L.O., two teenage students were caught smoking in their high school bathroom by a teacher and were brought to the principal’s office. Once there, the principal forcibly took the girl’s handbag and searched through it where he found rolling papers, a pipe, marijuana, and a good amount of money. For this, one girl was expelled from school. The girl decided to take this to court—as the school did not have the right to search her purse. The case went all the way from local courts to the Supreme Court.
Once there, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school. The court ruled that the school had a “reasonable suspension” and that it was constitutional. You might be asking yourself “what does this have to do with Strawn’s smoking article?” One of the reasons for which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school and not the teenage girl—was an idea called “in loco parentis.” It’s Latin for “in the place of a parent.” The Supreme Court had decided that the search was fair since the principle acted in place of her parent, ever since students have fought for this to be removed.
We don’t need people to act like our parents, and we especially don’t need people to act as our parents at University—where everyone is a legal adult, yet this is what Raymond Strawn wants. He said in his article that he wants smoking to be banned on campus if it couldn’t be fined off campus. Since when did college students want adults to act like our parents? I thought the whole point of college was to get away from our parents. Since we are legal adults, it is our right to make whatever choices we want with our body, even if the choices we make are self-damaging, like smoking.
Now of course, there are limits to what students can do and where they can smoke. There are rules about smoking in the building, as well as smoking too close to doors. Of course, these laws should be respected, but Strawn believes that it has to be taken further. He believes that the entire college should be a smoke-free campus. That is quite different than asking for common courtesy when entering a building; it denies people their right to do as they want.
As for the health hazard argument, there are many things that students do that can hurt people. Cars and car accidents kill a lot of people every year. Should students who are afraid of others driving cars be allowed to demand that no student can drive a car on campus? The answer is no, so why should someone demand the same of smoking?
Your right to get your way does not allow for the rest of us to be treated like children by people who have no right to act like our parents. We have spent quite a long time to get our rights as adults and we’re not about to go back to being treated like children.