Smokers should consider themselves lucky that no one has proposed they be locked up — at least not yet.
Since smokers have become social pariahs, it's no surprise that the University of Illinois is joining an ever-growing number of institutions to bar smoking on its grounds.
UI Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced this week that, as of November 2013, "the Urbana campus will become smoke-free" and that the prohibition will include the grounds of the Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium.
The UI is well within its rights to bar smoking on campus. Students and faculty are on board with the plan, and there's no denying that a society increasingly made up of nonsmokers has little sympathy for those who continue to partake of what is clearly a vile and unhealthy habit.
It is, however, worth noting that the same students who are filled with moral zeal on the tobacco issue are all in on Unofficial St. Patrick's Day and other binge-drinking activities that are a menace to health and welfare on campus. That's why this decision comes across as more heavy-handed moralizing by those who find great satisfaction in regulating other people's bad habits.
One can go on and on about secondhand smoke, and the public health danger it poses. But that doesn't mean that someone smoking a cigarette in the middle of the Quad poses a health threat, and it's hard to imagine that anyone would seriously argue that it does.
The mere thought of some people smoking — whether it harms anyone but the smoker or not — motivates the zealots. It's probably enough to drive them to drink.