Monday, February 11, 2008


When I was in college my roommate and I used to get paranoid about the smell of marijuana smoke escaping from our dorm. We tried air fresheners of all kinds, including aerosol spray that made our room smell like we were smoking pine trees. We had small electric filter appliances that didn't appear to do anything other then hum continuously. Towels by the door, fans by the window, scented candles, cheap incense... we tried everything. Despite our best efforts everybody knew that the residents of room 902 were chronic.

During my first year the worst that would happen would be the House Don giggling his ass off, usually because he was baked as well. We could tell the winds of change were blowing by second year. By the end of that term getting caught would involve a stern warning and threats of informing the Residence Tutor. Everything came crashing down in 3rd year, when upon moving in we were informed of a new "zero tolerance" policy. Get caught smoking weed in your dorm room and you were kicked out of residence. Period. No second chances.

The changes probably had a lot to do with two key incidents that happend on campus during my 2nd year. The first involved a drunken idiot who threw himself against an elevator door, and was suprised to discover it give way and send him crashing 4 floors down and into a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The 2nd involved another drunken idiot going thru a plate glass window and severing an artery in his arm in the process, bleeding out on the hallway carpet long before paramedics arrived. Neither of these had anything to do with smoking weed but it was an easy thing for the administration to attempt to curtail and boast about their success. In their defence, they did a good job on cracking down on drunken stupidity as well. The "all you can drink" residence parties that were a regular monthly event during 1st and 2nd year were banned completely, and getting cut off at the pub was a regular occurance for anybody who tried for anything more then a light buzz.

Now as much as I hated these rules I understood them, especially the zero-tolerance for drugs. They are illegal. This didn't stop with weed however... society has moved on to cigarettes.

Back then you could smoke cigarettes in the common areas of the building, in the cafeterias, the arcade, and even the campus pub. You could even smoke in some designated hallways, mere steps from the lecture halls. My old alma matter has changed considerably in the 14 years since I graduated. These days all residences are non-smoking, even your personal room, the one you pay close to $6000 to rent for the 8 month school year. Smoking in the pub or anywhere indoors for that matter is banned. The last I heard the administration is planning to ban the sale of cigarettes completely. Just for reference, this is a 650 acre campus, and walking to the nearest gas station/variety store is a good 25-30 minutes if you live in one of the dorms.

The whole point of this long-winded rant has been lost completely. Oh wait, now I remember... you see my point was to give some background on this story from the New York Times, about a woman who is being sued for smoking cigarettes in her own apartment.

I'm going to end this here, since I've gotten so far off track I doubt I could find my way back to any kind of coherent argument about how while I agree with anti-smoking laws in bars and restaurants once we enter into private homes things have gone too far.

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xoggoth said...

Totally agree although I suppose if it really was seeping into other areas it was not entirely a private matter. Strange sense of deja vu in this case, wasn't there a similar one about three years ago?

Ca1v1n said...

I do remember hearing about it before but I think in that case the person sued the building owner not the smoker. I think it was an apartment/renter scenario as well. In this case the smoker is a unit owner. I would think the condo board should be held responsible for ensuring the rooms are properly airtight. Biggest thing about this case is that the folks doing the suing are lawyers themselves... so you can bet they are being dicks.