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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Smokers Aren't Deterred By Tax Increases

In the near future it will become harder for UB smokers to light up and enjoy their cigarettes in NY and on campus. From smoking bans in bars and restaurants to increasing prices, the habit of smoking is becoming more inconvenient and expensive.

Over the past weeks, the recently-passed state budget includes a plan to increase the tax on cigarettes, which could mean an additional $1.50 per pack on top of the current prices.

According to Sherri Darrow, director of Wellness Education Services (WES), UB will soon be adding their own obstacles for UB smokers.

"We are currently working to change policies around campus regarding tobacco," Darrow said. "We are trying to stop the sales of tobacco on campus and we are trying to make UB a smoke-free campus."

In the near future, Darrow said that WES is attempting to establish distinguished smoking areas, which are farther away from building entrances. Their reasons for the new programs are to promote a healthier lifestyle on campus.

Even with the continual obstacles approaching in NY, many UB student smokers have no intentions of quitting, and feel that these new policies are insulting.

Tim Wagner, a freshman media study major, said that he picked up the habit because he played a character in a musical that smoked. He now averages about four or five cigarettes a day, and on a stressful day, he'll smoke up to two packs.

Many college smokers said that smoking has helped them deal with the stress of school. Some also claim that the college social atmosphere school has encouraged them to start smoking.

Alexander Karsten, a UB law student, said that he would not have made it through law school if it weren't for cigarettes. He also said that if there was a smoking ban on campus, he would not have attended UB.

"If this university wants to deprive us of our ability to make choices and even wrong choices, in their opinion, what are they saying about the trust they are putting in the future members of society?," Karsten said.

Karsten also said that because UB is a state university, they should not have the right to ban smoking on campus.

Sarah Chojnacki, a sophomore psychology major, took up the habit when a coworker offered her a cigarette during a break. She said that the college social life has not helped her kick the habit, and finds that she smokes a lot at parties.

"I never thought I would become a smoker," Chojnacki said.

Molly Brennan, a senior media study major, started her smoking habits from college socializing.

"I tend to surround myself with fellow smokers and I will smoke more frequently when around them," Brennan said. "I was one of the many who considered themselves 'social smokers.' I would merely bum cigarettes from other smokers. At the age of 21, I began buying my own packs of cigarettes."

With the NY tax increase on cigarettes, and UB's potential ban of selling cigarettes, many UB smokers may find themselves turning to more affordable alternatives for cigarette purchases.

Danielle Smith, a sophomore psychology major, purchases her cigarettes from an Indian Reservation to dodge tax increases.

"I do buy a lot of my cigarettes by the carton on the Reservation, so I'll probably just buy two at a time when I make trips out there to avoid these tax increases," Smith said.

Karsten said that if UB wants to encourage the students to become healthier, they should consider alternative programs, such as focusing on healthier foods such as organic foods and purified water.

More people will quit smoking when it is no longer the norm, Darrow said. The new programs at UB will continue to promote a healthy lifestyle that excludes smoking.

According to Darrow, if students are looking to quit there are options available like the quitting hotline, making an appointment with a health professional or stopping by the Health and Wellness Center.

Alan Vlakancic, a sophomore environmental design major, does not think that the NY tax increase will deter people from smoking.

"It makes cigarettes into a forbidden fruit, and probably makes rebellious kids want to smoke more," Vlakancic said. "If people are going to smoke, they're going to smoke. A price increase just makes it more of a hassle."



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