Black your lungs, not the block

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • October 2, 2013

At issue: Cigarette causes fire near Piano Row

Our take: Emerson should enforce its own smoking policies

College rules and regulations handbooks are much like those online Terms and Conditions boxes you blindly click: No one really reads what they say. However, that doesn’t mean there is no onus on the college itself to enforce its own rules. 

Emerson’s student handbook clearly outlines the parameters of smoking on its block of Boylston Street. The policy unambiguously prohibits smoking in and around all of the college’s buildings and properties, and also outlines specific regulations for smokers on the sidewalks outside of Emerson-owned properties. And students, if not familiar with the exact policies, are briskly reminded of its broad mandates when ECPD officers ask them to step outside of Emerson’s defined non-smoking boundary. In short, the college’s rules concerning smoking on Boylston Street are nothing new.

It is, of course, not illegal to smoke in public; smoking is a personal choice. However, Emerson has the right and responsibility to restrict the activity on its property; the administration should be working to enforce its own rules. A plaque in Emerson school colors prohibiting smoking does not stop someone from smoking right in front of the sign. It’s incumbent on Emerson—not the smokers—to reinforce the college’s policies. There needs to be a stronger effort to reduce the amount of smokers outside Emerson buildings to eliminate the health concerns and safety risks. 

On Wednesday, we saw another reason why smokers should be attentive. A cigarette butt, still aflame after being tossed away, fell through a hole in the concrete and ignited one of the wood beams that support the sidewalk.

While the bulk of responsibility falls on the administration, student smokers can take an easy step to reduce risks. Don’t just flick your cigarette after you’ve taken your last puff: Put it out. Cigarette disposals outside Emerson buildings, while convenient, wouldn’t square with the school’s policy. And while only a few unextinguished flicks will result in some actual damage, the two seconds it takes to stomp it out, and the resulting ash on the bottom of your shoe, is a very small price to pay. After all, you are smoking a cigarette to begin with.