Editorial | More virtue signaling at UI

Editorial | More virtue signaling at UI

The prigs continue their relentless assault on other people's vices because they, in all their imagined glory, know better.

University of Illinois officials took another step forward in their endless campaign of virtue signaling recently when they announced they are extending their campus tobacco ban to include smokeless tobacco.

One administrator called the decision a "logical extension" of the smoke-free policy on the UI's campuses.

Well, if that's the case, it's only because the puritans have decided to ban another practice enjoyed by some that they do not approve.

As everyone who's not a rigid ideologue knows, smokeless tobacco doesn't generate smoke. That, in fact, is why they call it smokeless tobacco.

The planned ban has nothing to do with the fact that the smell of cigarettes is obnoxious or that medical officials say secondhand smoke poses a health hazard.

It does, however, have everything to do with one group of people telling another group of people what they can and cannot do and backing up their proclamations with the force of law.

That's not surprising. Bossing people around or banning other people's bad habits can be great fun for those who are morally and intellectually superior to the slugs who have tastes not officially approved.

The good news is that this new policy is no big deal.

For starters, how many college kids use smokeless or chewing tobacco? There probably aren't too many students walking around with packages of Red Man tobacco in their pockets.

(By the way, does Chief Illiniwek chew Red Man tobacco? Surely not!)

Then there's the matter of enforcement. Assuming there are violators, how will they be identified?

Is a new group of "spit" police to be assigned to examine male expectorations (females are way above chewing) and make judgments about them based on their tobacco content?

People can see and smell smokers from a distance. That's not so with subtle consumers of smokeless tobacco products.

It would, of course, be a much healthier world if people of all ages, classes and races avoided tobacco in all its forms. There's just not much good about it in terms of expense, health or appearance.

But not everyone sees it that way. That's because people are different — who knew? — in thought, word and deed. In a free country, individuals have the right to make their own choices, some good and some bad. To each his own, as the old saying goes.

But consider the widespread consumption of alcoholic beverages. The culture of alcoholism is alive and well on the UI campus and every other college campus each weekend. Now there's a real public health menace that institutions mostly ignore because there's nothing they can do about it.

That's not so with smoking cigarettes or cigars or vaping.

Now that tobacco consumers have become a distinct minority, their foes have the muscle to adopt policies banning their use on campus and handing out tickets to those unfortunate enough to get caught lighting up.

Add smokeless tobacco to that list because the secondhand smoke it doesn't generate just cannot be tolerated — at least on paper.

That's one of the benefits of virtue signaling — it's an empty gesture that speaks volumes.

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