Driven to the Ledge

Whether smoking bans save any lives is debatable, but they definitely kill people.

[Thanks to Bill Vogt for the link.]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    No, didn't think of it myself. The question is, why didn't YOU think of it?

  • thoreau||

    An idiot leaned out a window way too far and fell.

    I nominate him for a Darwin award! I wonder if there's an official site accepting nominations. He has the double recommendation that, in addition to stupidly monkeying around in the window, he was also wiling to fork over a lot of money every week (much of it going to the government in taxes) for something that would give him cancer, respiratory problems, bad breath, and yellow teeth. Bad breath and yellow teeth won't kill you, but they don't help when trying to attract a mate. From an evolutionary standpoint, this guy was a dead-end.

    Looks like Darwin Award material to me!

  • Patrick||

    Two words: Natural Selection

  • ||

    Anon @ 12:37 and I assume 1:04:

    Patience. There should be at least a beer bottle to the head, trash talk at the earnest "I'm going to kill you" level or above, a hurlting through a window or table or drywall, or a drawn deadly weapon before going to the gun.

    I had generally sidestepped the pro-gun element of libertarianism, but if gun-carriers as exemplified by this attitude do not have a properly developed sense of responsibility to conserve their use to life-threatening situations as opposed to vigilante justice (a cigarette burn is surely painful, probably humiliating, and absolutely assault, but unless you've got the phattest blunt in town, not at all life-threating), I'm going have to sell the second amendment up the river. I'd be delighted if the state would keep you separated from firearms.

  • Larry||

    As someone who hates cigarette smoke, I still think the law has gone too far. Smoking in one's home (which a dormitory is) should be up to the occupants. Maybe one dorm on campus should be set up as completely smoke-free for anti-smoking zealots, but other than that smoking inside a private room should be allowed if the occupants want to do it.

    Let's face it, the second-hand smoke health argument is bullshit except maybe for spouses of heavy smokers who are around lots of the stuff for many years. The occasional sniff of tobacco smoke isn't going to cause health problems.

    Why can't we all get along? Why can't we sell smoking licenses to restaurants and bars to allow some minority of such establishments to allow their patrons to smoke? I wouldn't go to such places, but my preferences aren't everyone's.

  • Marlboro Stunt Man||

    Everyone assumes he fell by himself. I have seen non-smokers get irate enough to start up a fist fight over someone smoking, especially in an area that banned smoking. Maybe someone got fed up with this inconsiderate, lazy jackass and pushed his ass out. Its the perfect crime without witnesses and the fact the smoker took the screen out to lean out and toke. Where was his roommate, or does KU have the luxury of single occupancy dorm rooms?

  • 7.62||

    Anon @ 1:30

    It's unfortunate that some of the posters here resort to the type of comments you are remarking on. For the most part true gun enthusiasts rarely behave in such a manner. Not only does the anonymous poster make gun owner sound violent but also these are likely the idiots accidentally shooting themselves and their families giving guns an even worse rap.

  • Mark A.||

    My, my, thoreau, aren't we a little touchy today?! :-)

    Look, the poor kid was doing something foolish and paid for it with his life. Didn't we all do foolish things when we were 18, 19, 20...? I sure as hell did. This kid just happened to be foolish and unlucky simultaneously.

    As to your theory, I met my wife while we were both on a smoke break, so I don't think that smoking necessarily makes one an evolutionary dead-end. We have three kids, after all.

  • thoreau||

    Mark A.-

    Yeah, maybe I was a little harsh. Fair enough, smokers aren't evolutionary dead ends. And yeah, I've done pretty stupid things, but the Darwin Award was never intended to be a matter of fairness.

    What makes this guy an excellent Darwin Award candidate is that he's young and presumably has no offspring. If a person with offspring dies by lighting a match to get a better view of a broken natural gas line, or by trying to pet a grizzly bear, the damage to the gene pool is already done. But this guy has presumably not yet polluted the gene pool.

    (And I say this as a full-fledged idiot who has not yet fathered offspring. If I should ever decide to turn a compressed gas cylinder into a rocket, I would hope that the Darwin committee would take my lack of offspring into account. ;)

  • Mark A.||

    That said, those Darwin Awards sure are funny in a dark, morbid sort of way........

  • bennett||

    First off, Is it just me or was Jacob's comment rather "tounge-in-cheek" to begin with. Chill out, people.

    Second, all the kid had to do was ride the elevator outside and light up. With that in mind, he is definately a nominee for the Darwin Award.

  • ||

    The anti-smoking "Citizen" trying to "activate his personal responsibility" by battery (not to mention violation of property rights) is essentially advocating coercion. The logical advance of that position is escalated violence which ends in death. The death does not have to be by firearm, but it is the logical conclusion nonetheless.

    Would Citizen attempt the battery if the smoker had a gun in his other hand? I think not. And if not, then why is he so wishy-washy on his stance? Would he merely contact the 'authorities' (mostly likely armed) to 'activate his personal responsibility' for him?

    If Citizen is going to argue his logical point, he needs to argue it all the way, not just to the level of discomfort. He wants to allow the smoker to exercise his personal responsibility in said smoker's home only, yet Citizen wants to be allowed to exercise his personal responsibility anywhere he wants. Double standards do not exist with logic.

  • ||

    In other words:

    "for want of a coffin nail..."

  • matt||

    The owner of the property (dorm room) in this case wasn't the kid smoking but the university. Since it technically owns the property the occupants living there have to follow whatever rules the university has (like an apartment lease), whether he likes them or not.

  • Nick Yulico||

    It is quite sad that this kid had to die. However, it's very clear that he should have ignored the ban in the first place.

  • Citizen||

    It's not a double standard. You can smoke in your own home. An on-campus dorm room at a public university is not your own home. What you cannot do is smoke on an airplane, in an office, in a restaurant (although I'm willing to concede that owners ought to have the right to do with their dining establishments as they wish), in a school, in a courthouse, or any other public arena in which your disgusting, toxic, cancerous, nauseous fumes can cause burning eyes, running noses, coughing fits, bad smelling clothes and hair on innocent others. The execution of whatever personal right smokers had, ended when these and similar symptoms made contact with others

    Yeah, I advocate coercion against that kind of behavior.

    I think as a society it is appropriate to stigmatize smoking and therefore smokers as much as possible. Philosophically, I?m fine with smokers legally doing what they want on their own, but hopefully ?the rest of us? can make smoking so frowned upon that it?ll be an antiquated textbook example of self-destructive behavior in an intro psychology textbook somewhere down the line.

  • ||

    I think as a society it is appropriate to stigmatize people like citizen, and therefore citizen as much as possible. Philosophically, I'm fine with people like citizen legally thinking what they want on their own, but hopefully, the rest of us, can make citizen so frowned upon that it'll be an antiquated textbook example of self-righteous blowhard in an intro psychology textbook somewhere down the line.

  • Larry||

    Actually, a dormatory is just like a home with all the associated expectations of privacy and the like. It is a double standard to allow smoking in homes but not dorm rooms. I can't really tell from the story and I am not that familiar with KU, but if this is a state-owned building then it really is no business of the government if people are using legal substances in their own homes.

    I would agree that it is not the government's business to interfere with contracts if a private landlord wants to prohibit smoking in her building.

    Why can't some dorm rooms be made available for smokers? Most of the hotels I go to have some rooms set aside for smokers. I don't sleep in those rooms because I dislike the smell of smoke. Why does everything always have to be all or nothing?

  • matt||


    It may look like we're haggling over details here but there is a big difference between a dorm room and a house. You own your house....students don't own their dorm rooms. The univerisity, or more precisely, the state does. So they, like private property owners, get to decide what to allow and what not to allow in thier dormatories.

  • Phil||

    Boy, there sure are a lot of people around who imagine that they have a right to put things into other people's lungs against their will. Am I permitted to exact no rent, no charge from you for putting things in my lungs? Are my lungs yours to use? No, they are not. Why do you think they are?

    If I walked around with a can of Lysol and sprayed it into your face, surely you'd attempt to stop me, no? Even if I just sprayed it around randomly and some of it happened to go into your face, you'd try to stop me, wouldn't you?

  • ||

    A dormroom is not a home. You are often randomly assigned a roommate. You have great restrictions on your lifestyle for all sorts of reasons. It is quite reasonable to expect that the room you are assigned by the college will not be shared with a chain-smoker.

    I am also a landlord and my rental property has a no-smoking clause. For me it is a financial issue. A smoke-free apartment is easier to clean and rent to new tenants. If you want to smoke feel free to rent from someone else. The taxpayers of Kentucky should have the same protection that I have.

  • Bob||

    Well, as for the ban on smoking because of the unwanted side effects, why stop there? I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but tens of thousands of people die every year due to hideous things called automobiles- yes it's true! How can these vicious car dealers get away with such profane negligence? I say, let's take the good example of our social elite who know better, and rid ourselves of these killing machines altogether. Who's with me! Let us be reasonalbe, anti-car legislation is the only way to save the children.

  • Smokey Robinson||

    If he had only been a mechanical engineering major; he might have figured out how to suck the smoke outside with fans. Note to teens in the dorm - use chewin' tobacckey in highrise non smoking dorms.

  • ||

    No matter. What are individual deaths if we can stop a horrible habit that the intelligencia do not like.

    It's for the kids!

  • Madog||

    Some people may die, but remember that it's all so future generations can look back at us with the same distain we have for old habits such as bear-baiting, opium dens, taking scalps and ears as trophies in battle, etc.

  • WLC||

    A single death is a statistic, a million deaths is a tragedy.

    Something like that.

  • Mark A.||

    Looks a lot more like smoking killed him to me, though I don't take the notion seriously. That is, after all, the activity in which he was engaged when he fell.

    While I do not support a general smoking ban throughout the building (unless it is private property, perhaps), it is silly to suggest that a smoking ban killed him. He died, apparently by accident, because he CHOSE to smoke in his dorm.

  • Brian||

    Oh please! The smoking ban didn't kill him. His own stupidity and laziness did. Whatever happened to the libertarian ideal of personal responsibility? Blaming the smoking ban for this is absurd. Jacob S. doesn't seem so eager to blame alcohol for the death of that other student menationed in the article who sleepwalked out his window while intoxicated. How about some consistency here?

  • ||

    Apparently, raising cigerette taxes is a safer way to reduce smoking than outright prohibition.

  • Trent||

    Yes, but all the anti-smoking crowd wants to ignore personal responsibilty when compiling statistics about how smoking kills. So it would be intellectually consistent to ignore personal responsibility when a person dies when driven to smoke in a dangerous area by a smoking ban. Isn't that the point Jacob is trying to make?

  • dhex||

    i just thought he was being cute.

  • ||

    Trent, people would rather be logical only to the extent it supports their argument.

  • Citizen||

    But not you o wise anon @ 12:18, you're always logical in all things.

    No, Trent, we anti-smoking advocates still support the right for you to smoke in your own home, by yourself - we give you those statistics to help you make a more informed decision, thus increasing your personal responsibility. Smoking around other people, however, activates their personal responsibility to put out your cigarette ... for you ... on you ...

  • ||

    Which then activates MY personal responsbility to put a bullet through your skull.

  • Ira Weatheral||


    I suppose it depends on the school, but I know the State University of New York considers your dorm room your home.

    State police need a warrent to enter and search, or at least they did back in the 80s.

  • ||

    The point is that prohibition often induces people to engage in activities more dangerous than the thing prohibited. OF couse, the prohibitionists don't give a damn because their real goal is not to save lives, but to run them.

    When I was at KU in the 70s, some people smoked in their dorm rooms, most did not, and a few firmly disallowed it in their rooms. In other words, students were treated like the adults that they were supposedly there to become.

    PS Those of us who puffed ILLEGAL cigarettes didn't resort to the ledge either. Haven't these guys ever heard of aerosol O3 (Ozium)?

  • Citizen||

    That's true about the warrent to enter and search, or it was at the Cal State U system, as well. But that doesn't mean that it is considered "your home" in the sense of ownership. *Generally* campus housing authorities have freedom to dictate policy on everything from furniture (no lofts, toaster ovens, microwaves) to guests (no over-night visitors for more than three nights in a row without paying fees, seriously) to decoration (no candles, no "offensive posters") to noise levels. It's not surprising, then, that they would and could prohibit smoking tobacco.

    Bullet through the skull. That's clever, think of it yourself?

  • WLC||

    Didn't all this start, more or less twelve years ago, over a stupid cartoon camel.

  • ||

    Stop dring a car Phil, so you don't put your exhaust into my lungs. In fact, you should probably stop using all manufactured products, since their by-products usually include pollution. Also, stop using electricity and heating your home.

    And stop eating meat too, since that livestock farts and generally contributes to additional air pollution.

    And I shouldn't let God off the hook, either. That ragweed is doing a number on my allergies right now.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties