John Robson: McMaster University thinks adults can’t decide for themselves whether to smoke

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Courtesy of National Post

It is grimly amusing to read that McMaster will soon be the first entirely smoke-free campus in Ontario, banning lighting soon-to-be-legal joints as well the dreaded cigarettes. What are they teaching them in schools?

According to the Post story, the University president said banning all smoke except the stuff coming out a columnist’s ears “was a next step in ‘fulfilling our responsibilities as educators.’” Which would be what exactly?

To prevent students from assuming adult responsibilities for another four years? Or to keep them from learning how to make prudent scientific judgements? I remember when education was about sound information and reasoning skills. But nowadays evidently it has become a branch of applied social engineering.

According to the Post, “Allowing smoking to go on any longer would have been at odds with what the school said was ‘globally recognized’ research in the health and ‘societal well-being.’” So evidently world-class research has revealed that adults making their own choices, including risky ones, is contrary to the revolution or something. But don’t worry. Those who flout the ban will, initially, be referred to “a cessation program or given access to supports and resources.”

Does the university want to prevent students from assuming adult responsibilities for another four years?

Ah. Re-education. You shouldn’t have. But they did. Fourteen Canadian universities now ban smoking entirely, as does the Yukon territory on all campuses there.

To be fair, there is a certain petty consistency in legalizing marijuana because anything goes nowadays, only to immediately ban it because nothing does. McMaster’s Assistant Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer told the CBC, “Smoking is a personal choice. We’re not saying you have to quit smoking.” You just can’t, you know, smoke.

It also reflects a pervasive irrationality about second-hand smoke bound to impact legalized marijuana as well as officially disapproved tobacco. Despite the condescending banner of “evidence-based decision-making,” government ads drivel things like, “There is NO SAFE LEVEL of SECOND-HAND SMOKE… Even Outdoors!” That City of Ottawa ad, spotted on a bike rack in August 2010, raved, “EXPOSURE TO SECOND-HAND SMOKE CAN BE AS DANGEROUS OUTDOORS AS IT IS INDOORS.” And there was a snitch line to foster social cohesion.

We are not saying you have to quit smoking. You just cannot, you know, smoke

Are you kidding me? Everybody who prefers actual to politicized science has known “the dose makes the poison” since Paracelsus (dead white male physician, 1493/94-1541). Whereas McMaster won’t even let you smoke in your car lest a stray molecule pierce a passerby and leave them prostrate or merely hysterical on the sidewalk. “That provision,” the Post reported, “is meant to protect passing students, staff and faculty from second-hand smoke, dean of students Sean Van Koughnett told The Canadian Press.” Evidently no provision exists to shelter them from second-hand paranoia.

The university did suggest therapeutic marijuana users consider pot brownies or pills. Despite globally recognized evidence that eating the stuff makes it harder to control the dose


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