Smokers Protest Ban By Exercising Free Speech Rights

students who smoke
Texas State smokers took to the Fighting Stallions with cigarettes in hand yesterday to protest the tobacco-free policy, hoping to spark interest on an issue they feel is unfair. Approximately 25 students lit up in protest while many others gathered to watch the proceedings. The tobacco-free policy, which went into effect last August, prohibits smoking and the use of all tobacco products on all university property, including athletic and recreational fields, outdoor stadiums and grandstands, parking garages and parking lots, Sewell Park, University Camp and Freeman Ranch.

Ted Calvin, mass communication freshman, led the protest. Calvin said he and others feel Texas State should be more accommodating to students who smoke. Calvin and the other protesters said they were not afraid of being punished by authorities for smoking on campus. The protesters chose to exercise their First Amendment rights and demonstrate their objection to the tobacco-free policy at the Fighting Stallions because it is a campus expression area. The area around the statue is a designated place on campus where anyone may express ideas and opinions without censorship.
The protesters were vocal about their opinions regarding the tobacco ban. “I think it is crap,” said Tiffany Burr, psychology sophomore. “We’re grown. I don’t think this protest will do anything, though.” Sarah Hebson, public relations junior, was not supportive of the protest, and yelled her thoughts on the matter at the protesters. “When I saw them smoking, I thought it was gross,” Hebson said. “(They are) going to die at a young age. I just don’t like tobacco use.”

The original protest formed after Calvin posted on the “Texas State Class of 2015” Facebook page urging students to meet at the stallions to smoke their cigarettes as part of a peaceful protest. The post received 33 “likes” and more than 260 comments. Calvin said he and fellow smokers will most likely protest at the same time and place this Thursday, and will have a petition for students to sign. The group hopes to receive enough signatures for university administration to create designated smoking areas on campus.