Why one smoker is happy ash trays are disappearing

Photo courtesy of Sac City Express | Staff Writer Toni Carlotta gives insight as to why removing the ash trays around campus is beneficial.

Last month during finals week, the handful of ashtrays located outside Gallagher Student Center (GSC) were unexpectedly removed and replaced with a “No Smoking” sign. This was met by a universal shrug, as the majority of students at Xavier are not affected by this small push toward a possibly smoke-free campus in Xavier’s future.

The GSC ashtrays disappearing was not necessarily shocking; the lack of notice before they were removed, however, was. Ashtrays across campus (specifically outside Smith Hall, Fenwick Place and the Conaton Learning Commons) were abruptly taken the same day as the ones outside of GSC. As a smoker, I’m a bit relieved.

If you know me at all, you know I have a full love/hate relationship with cigarettes. If you don’t know me, you’ve most likely given me the side-eye while I was smoking next to the library (for that I am sorry).

I started smoking as a freshman at Xavier to combat the newfound stresses I faced as a college kid. It was never really about impressing people; it’s not 1954, and smoking cigarettes is generally frowned upon. For me, it was a way to spend a few minutes out of my own head, meet new people or any other reason I could use to justify this addicting thing. The longer I’ve smoked, the more I’ve resented cigarettes.

Despite this, I have continued to fuel my love/hate for cigarettes for nearly three years as I didn’t know anything better to combat my stress and anxiety.

The removal of Xavier’s ashtrays (and the false sense of tolerance the campus had toward cigarettes) is bittersweet, but I don’t see it too negatively. If anything, it’s helpful because I’m forced to smoke less when I’m on campus.

To go full communication studies major, there are implicit (seeing what others are doing to see what’s acceptable) and explicit (actually written and enforced rules) norms throughout cultures. At Xavier, cigarettes are not necessarily banned, but seeing groups of regular smokers across campus is rare because it’s not what the majority do.

Seeing fewer people partake in the same risky behaviors makes it harder to justify it to oneself. By removing the ashtrays without forewarning, Xavier silently said to all smokers on campus that supporting their habit is no longer a priority. It was a necessary wake-up call that my addiction to cigarettes isn’t considerate of others, is bad for my health and is just nasty.

Smoking is a simple yet complicated issue. Blindly demanding people to “just stop” is not good enough. There will always be at least one group that smokes on the Brockman stoop every night because we are not helping students learn how to cope with their anxiety correctly.

While taking away ashtrays is a small step toward reducing the smoking population, it’s not enough to combat the stressors that keep students smokers or smoking in the first place. There will always be smokers among our students and faculty, so taking away the majority of the ashtrays really just takes away a place to set your butt.

Even then, it’s a step in the right direction for Xavier.

Hopefully other smokers will use this as an opportunity to cut back on smoking, at least when they are on campus.

From, a resentful smoker with Lupus.

Toni Carlotta is a junior commuincations major and staff writer for the Newswire from Cincinnati.