Campus-wide bans on use of tobacco are being enacted or considered by as many as half of all colleges nationwide, according to a report by The Associated Press. Initially, that may seem like a sound idea.
However, such measures may be overly broad and overzealous. Depending on the rationale, a ban on smoking anywhere on campus might even go too far.
Increasingly, evidence shows secondhand smoke poses a significant health risk. That could be sufficient reason to sequester smokers to areas where smoking would not bother others.
Remember, smoking in public spaces and workplaces already is banned in Ohio. While dormitories can be considered private residences, some institutions have banned smoking in dorms.
To be sure, we're no fans of smoking. Smoking is a filthy habit that can be a lifelong addiction. But while eliminating the temptation for young adults to begin smoking is a laudable goal, that is not sufficient grounds to deny students who have reached the age of majority from partaking of a legal activity.
And use of smokeless tobacco, while disgusting, also should be an individual decision and not one dictated by a public institution. Private colleges and universities ought to have more latitude for regulating behavior on their properties.
Institutions of higher education should prepare collegians to make sound decisions. That experience should involve the freedom to make those decisions, and not just obey public edicts.